British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has called for “a bit of respect” from the European Union (EU) leaders as he claimed the bloc’s senior figures “serially” talk about Northern Ireland “as if it were somehow a different country from the UK”.
His remarks on Sunday comes amid escalating tension between both sides on post-Brexit trade and a “grace period” for some border checks will end at the end of this month, reports Xinhua news agency.
“We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it were somehow a different country from the UK,” Raab told Sky News.
He claimed the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol had been “very lopsided” and had had “real life effects” on people in Northern Ireland.
“What we cannot have is the continuing disruption of trade and effectively try to change the status of Northern Ireland, contrary to the consent and wishes of the people, which is not just contrary to the Northern Ireland Protocol but also to the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement,” the Foreign Secretary added.
Officials from both sides met in London on June 9 to hold talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol ahead of the G7 Summit but produced no breakthroughs.
The UK government has threatened to unilaterally extend the customs “grace period” on Irish Sea border checks over imports of some products to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, over which the EU is vowing retaliation.
Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland issue was also raised during talks between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the US and European leaders.
In a meeting with US President Joe Biden on June 10 in Cornwall on the eve of the G7 Summit, Johnson tried to smoothen over differences with Biden on the Northern Ireland issue, but failed to find a real solution.
The two leaders agreed that both the EU and Britain had a responsibility to work together and to find pragmatic solutions to allow unincumbered trade between Northern Ireland, Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland, a statement from 10 Downing Street said.
In his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron on June 12, Johnson expressed confidence in the UK’s position in the Northern Ireland Protocol and made clear his desire for pragmatism and compromise on all sides but underlined that protecting the Belfast Agreement in all its dimensions is paramount.
Johnson underlined the UK’s position on the Northern Ireland protocol and the need to maintain both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Britain when he met German Chancellor Angela Merkellater that day.
Under the protocol, a part of the post-Brexit trade deal reached between London and Brussels in 2019, food products from Britain to the EU will have to enter through new border control posts at Northern Ireland’s ports.
Northern Ireland will continue to apply EU customs rules at its ports, to allow goods to flow into the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.
This is known as the Irish sea border, which is a new trade border between Northern Ireland and other parts of Britain.
The Belfast Agreement, or the Good Friday Agreement, is a set of agreements signed between the British and Irish governments as well as the major political parties in Northern Ireland on Good Friday, April 10, 1998, which is viewed as a major political development in the Northern Ireland peace process.
This agreement helped to end a period of conflict in the region.