‘Dial down!’ EU rattled after fed-up Britain threatens bloc to walk away from Brexit talks

Dominic Raab issues new Brexit threat to EU

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The Deputy Prime Minister said the Government would take “whatever measures are necessary” to resolve the issues around the Brexit Northern Ireland protocol on Sunday. In a warning to Brussels, Mr Raab told Sky News: “If anything, the outcome in Northern Ireland from those elections makes it clear it can’t be put off.”

He suggested it would be dealt with in the coming “weeks and months”, warning that stability in Northern Ireland was being “imperilled” by the dispute over the protocol – which was agreed by Boris Johnson’s Government as part of the Brexit divorce from the EU.

The deadlock will increase tensions between Westminster and Brussels, with the UK insisting all options remain on the table – including the possibility of unilaterally scrapping elements of the deal.

That could trigger a major breakdown in relations between the UK and European Union.

Responding to the threat, EU Commission Vice President Faros Sefcovic blasted: “The EU has already shown a lot of flexibility by proposing impactful, durable solutions and we stand ready to continue discussions.

“We need the UK Government to dial down the rhetoric, be honest about the deal they signed and agree to find solutions within its framework.”

He insisted that the EU has “absolutely no interest in interfering in the UK’s internal affairs,” adding that the UK should “show genuine determination and good faith to make the Protocol work, rather than looking for ways to erode it.”

The protocol effectively creates checks on goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to allow an open border with Ireland, which is within the EU’s single market and customs union.

“We will deal with the situation, we will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the economic as well as the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland,” Mr Raab said on Sunday.

He indicated that the protocol had been used as a “political device” by Brussels.

UK Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis, will meet the leaders of the province’s political parties today to encourage them to restore government and form an executive after last week’s election.

Irish nationalist party Sinn Fein won the most seats in the Northern Ireland’s devolved assembly for the first time, a result it said was a “defining moment” for the British-controlled region.

It has the right to put forward a candidate for first minister in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, set up under a 1998 peace deal that ended three decades of sectarian conflict in the province.

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But the pro-British Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) has said it will not participate until there is a breakthrough in post-Brexit rules that impose trade barriers between the province and the rest of the United Kingdom.

Lewis will meet Sinn Fein leader Michelle O’Neill, her DUP counterpart Jeffrey Donaldson, and the leaders of the Alliance, UUP and SDLP parties to encourage them to restore the devolved institutions, the British government said.

“The people of Northern Ireland deserve a stable and accountable devolved government and I will continue to urge the leaders of Northern Ireland political parties to fulfil their responsibilities and form an executive as soon as possible,” he said in a statement ahead of the meetings.

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