Ireland erupts! Leo Varadkar throws Brexit gauntlet down to Boris over Article 16 threat

Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol

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Brexit Britain has long wanted to overhaul large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, demands the European Union is flat out rejecting. Intensive talks between the two sides over the issue have collapsed, increasing the chances of the UK triggering Article 16, which would all but tear up the Protocol. Earlier today, the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost warned it is not “inevitable” the Government would take that action, but insisted it would be “our only option” if negotiations with Brussels end in stalemate.

The move, branded the “nuclear option” due to it being a last resort, would likely spark a fierce backlash from the EU, with the possibility of the suspension of the trade deal resulting in a trade war.

Ireland’s deputy Prime Minister Mr Varadkar has sent one of the strongest warnings yet to Mr Johnson over any move to suspend the Protocol.

He said: “We have an agreement in relation to Northern Ireland, we have an agreement in relation to trade with the European Union.

“Don’t jeopardise that agreement.

“You were part of negotiating us, you own it, it was hard-won.

“It’s a mistake to think that, by escalating tensions, by withdrawing from any part of it or trying to withdraw from any part of it, that you’ll end up with a better deal.

“You won’t.”

Mr Varadkar also warned any suspension of the Protocol would be a “big mistake” as it would threaten to reopen “uncertainty” that was created by Brexit over the past few years.

He added: “I think that would be a big mistake.

“The uncertainty that was created by Brexit went on for years.

“I think it would be a big mistake for the British Government now to reopen that uncertainty.

“I’d hate us to be talking again about a no-deal Brexit or a cliff edge, or any of those terms that we’d forgotten and almost stopped using.

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“Any attempt to trigger Article 16, I think, would be bad news for business in Northern Ireland, here in Ireland and indeed in Britain.”

The Irish Government has ramped up reactivating no-deal contingency planning in preparation for Article 16 being triggered and the Brexit deal being ripped up.

Earlier on Wednesday, members of the House of Lords told a Dail committee a no-deal Brexit would be back on the table if the UK triggers Article 16 of the Protocol.

Lord Jay of Ewelme, chairman of the House of Lords sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, warned making the move could reset negotiations and could result in a no-deal scenario.

He said: “I agree with you very much on what to say about the risks of Article 16 being imposed or being triggered, and the response to Article 16 by the European Union, potentially leading to all the complicated negotiations with the prospect of a no-deal as the last stage.

“That is one end of the spectrum.

“The other end of the spectrum, which I think we can’t rule it out, and I certainly wouldn’t want to rule out, although I must say that the prospects are not looking brilliant at the moment, is for a negotiated settlement to be reached between now and Christmas or over Christmas.

“I don’t think we can rule that out.”

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