Iain Dale shames EU over Article 16 row – bloc has ‘scant regard for peace!’

Northern Ireland: Timmermans says 'solution is within reach'

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The commentator, known for his Evening Show on LBC radio, was highly vocal in his analysis of the situation, stating ‘Remainers’ would claim that triggering Article 16 would be “another example of Britain’s cavalier attitude to international law”. Speaking of the notion that the Article was put in place for a reason, the radio host said: “Article 16 was written into the treaty because people on both sides anticipated that it might be needed.”

In a stark warning of the legislation being triggered, he added: “And it looks very much like it will be needed now.”

The broadcaster, when speaking about the EU’s slack approach to the Protocol said: “It thought it could use Northern Ireland to try to keep the whole UK in the customs union and the single market.”

“Few people realise how close that was to happening under Theresa May,” he added.

However, the resulting Brexit negotiations saw many Unionists in the North of Ireland claim that Britain had abandoned them in the process.

Confirming the fact, and mentioning how Theresa May’s near-miss was avoiding, Mr Dale added in his Telegraph column: “The British mainland thankfully avoided that fate but at the price of leaving Northern Ireland behind.”

According to Mr Dale, he said the EU was using Northern Ireland as bait.

He said: “The Protocol was a trap set by Brussels and Boris Johnson, consciously or unconsciously, fell into it just to “get Brexit done.”

With the threat becoming very much a reality that Article 16 will be triggered, EU officials are on standby.

Speaking of the consequences involved, Tánaiste Leo Varadkar said Ireland had begun to “dust down” contingency preparations in case London acts unilaterally to suspend some parts of the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Varadkar said that if Britain triggered Article 16 clause of the Protocol to unilaterally suspend key parts of the deal, the European Commission could be forced to scrap the post-Brexit Trade and Cooperation Agreement.

“I don’t think anybody wants to see the European Union suspending the Trade and Cooperation Agreement with Britain, but if Britain were to act in such a way that it was resigning from the protocol, resigning from the withdrawal agreement, I think the European Union would have no option other than to . . . respond,” Varadkar said.

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Brexit commissioner Maros Sefcovic will brief EU ambassadors and MEPs on Wednesday ahead of a meeting with Lord David Frost, the UK Brexit minister, on Friday.

Legal experts said a UK decision to suspend parts of the deal on Northern Ireland would undermine the basis on which the EU had agreed to the zero-tariff, zero-quota trade deal.

Catherine Barnard, a professor of EU law at Cambridge University said: “If the UK is pulling the plug on substantive provisions of that withdrawal agreement, the EU could argue it gives them grounds to terminate the TCA.”

Senior EU diplomats said there was a growing consensus among member states that it could not be “business as usual” if the UK resorted to Article 16.

“No short term measures have been decided but there will be talks about potentially suspending the TCA,” said one EU diplomat.

What remains to be seen is whether peace in Ireland will suffer as a result of the ongoing talks.

The Good Friday Agreement signed in 1998 put an end to the ‘Troubles’ that haunted the people of Ireland for so long.

With a possibility that Unionists loyal to London are once again sidelined by Britain, conflict of some form may stem from the decision.

With Article 16 potentially leading to challenging economic conditions for the UK, and the current status quo leaving the unionists forgotten, the choices made over the next week will have very important consequences either way.

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