PM reads riot act to EU amid claims ministers are preparing to scrap N Ireland Protocol within DAYS

Boris Johnson today warned he is ready to ‘take action’ over post-Brexit rules for Northern Ireland amid claims Britain could scrap key parts of an EU agreement within days.

In a phone call with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin this morning, the Prime Minister cautioned the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol had become ‘very serious’. 

Mr Johnson also hit out at the EU for failing to take the ‘steps necessary’ to address the disruption the post-Brexit agreement is causing in Northern Ireland.

The historic result of last week’s Northern Ireland Assembly elections has piled the pressure on both the UK and EU to come up with a solution to their ongoing dispute.

The DUP, who have now been replaced by nationalist Sinn Fein as the largest party at Stormont, yesterday turned up the heat on the Protocol row.

The unionist party confirmed they won’t re-enter a powersharing administration in Northern Ireland without ‘decisive action’ on the post-Brexit trade rules.

Following the dramatic developments at Stormont, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is now claimed to be preparing to unveil legislation that would scrap key parts of the Protocol in British law.

According to The Times, the action could be announced next Tuesday after Ms Truss concluded that discussions with Brussels over the Protocol had hit deadlock.

It led to increased speculation that Britain and the EU are now headed for a bitter trade war.

Boris Johnson hit out at the EU for failing to take the ‘steps necessary’ to address the disruption the post-Brexit agreement is causing in Northern Ireland

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is claimed to be preparing to unveil legislation that would scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol in British law

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is claimed to be preparing to unveil legislation that would scrap key parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol in British law

The Protocol was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit and imposed checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

The Protocol was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit and imposed checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland

In his phone call with Mr Martin this morning, Downing Street said both Mr Johnson and his Irish counterpart agreed on the ‘vital importance’ of restoring devolved government in Northern Ireland.

As well his condemnation of EU efforts to reach a compromise, the PM also reiterated his warning that the UK could act alone if a deal isn’t reached.

‘The Prime Minister made clear that the situation in respect of the Northern Ireland Protocol was now very serious,’ said Number 10 in a readout of the call.

‘The balance of the Good Friday Agreement was being undermined and the recent elections had further demonstrated that the Protocol was not sustainable in its current form.

‘Despite repeated efforts by the UK Government over many months to fix the Protocol, including those sections related to the movement of goods and governance, the European Commission had not taken the steps necessary to help address the economic and political disruption on the ground.

‘The Prime Minister reiterated that the UK Government would take action to protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland if solutions could not be found.’ 

Today’s Queen’s Speech, in which the Government unveiled its new legislative agenda, also hinted at possible unilateral action from Westminster.

Ministers noted how the problems caused by the Protocol ‘continue to stand in the way’ of a Stormont executive being formed.

‘We will continue to talk with the EU but we will not let that stand in the way of protecting peace and stability in Northern Ireland,’ they added.

‘As any responsible government would, we will take the steps necessary to protect all dimensions of the Good Friday Agreement and meet our obligations under the “New Decade New Approach Deal” to protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market.’

The Protocol was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit and imposed checks on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

But the EU’s ‘dogmatic’ and ‘rigid’ implementation of the Protocol has been blamed by British ministers for causing significant trade disruption.

The DUP and other unionists are also concerned the agreement has been detrimental to Northern Ireland’s status within the UK.

Ms Truss and EU vice-president Maros Sefcovic have been holding talks over potential solutions to the dispute.

But the Foreign Secretary is now said to have concluded that Mr Sefcovic does not have the mandate to agree an acceptable deal, without getting new instructions from EU leaders.

A government source told The Times that Ms Truss was keen to press ahead with unilateral action after losing faith in ‘computer says no’ negotiations with the EU. 

According to the newspaper, legislation drafted by her officials would unilaterally remove the need for all checks on goods being sent from Great Britain for use in Northern Ireland.

The laws are claimed to go further than previously reported plans, by explicitly scrapping large parts of the Protocol rather than simply giving ministers the power to do so in the future.

The Foreign Secretary is said to have been warned that pushing ahead with her plans will see the EU suspend all cooperation with the UK, except on Ukraine, and prompt Brussels to take legal action as well as potentially impose tariffs on UK exports or even terminate the UK-EU post-Brexit trade deal. 

It emerged this week that Cabinet ministers are split over whether to take unilateral action over the Protocol.

But claims that Chancellor Rishi Sunak and Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove are less keen than Ms Truss on the UK acting alone have since been dismissed as part of posturing among rivals hoping to replace the PM. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk

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