Brexit crisis: Boris warned UK ‘out-manoeuvred’ by EU and not ready for Article 16 chaos

Germany slams UK for breaching Brexit agreement

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The UK and European Union have been holding intense talks over recent weeks around the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which has put a huge divide between the two sides since Britain formally left the bloc on January 1, 2021. Britain wants large parts of the deal around post-Brexit trading arrangements torn up – namely the removal of the European Court of Justice acting as a type of referee in any future disputes between the two sides. The EU has so far failed to give any significant ground in talks, which European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic recently warned could stretch well into next year.

This has led the UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost to continue to warn over the possibility of invoking Article 16, which would see large parts if not all of the Protocol agreement torn up.

But the EU has hit back with a vengeance, warning of severe repercussions if this mechanism is triggered, sparking fears of a destructive trade war and even the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, has urged the UK to invoke Article 16 if the EU continues to take a hard stance on the implementation of the Protocol.

He told Express.co.uk: “As the Bow Group warned at the time, Boris Johnson agreed a bad deal with the EU that was always going to unravel.

“The current renegotiation of the Northern Irish Protocol offers an opportunity to renegotiate parts of that deal, or potentially the whole deal if current negotiations completely collapse.

“It is therefore important that this opportunity is taken to completely satisfy issues in Northern Ireland, so as to not create continued uncertainty over a long period of time.

“Business in Northern Ireland and beyond has been damaged by the existing Northern Irish Protocol, but what is even worse for business is uncertainty over what the rules will be for the foreseeable future.

“Our government therefore urgently needs to provide clarity, and also resolve the unworkable status quo.”

But Mr Harris-Quinney has accused the Government of a “naive approach” thus far, leaving it to being “out-manoeuvred” by Brussels and extremely vulnerable to suffering a devastating impact should it decide to go “nuclear” with Article 16.

He continued: “If the EU is not willing to budge on key issues like goods checks and ECJ arbitration the government should trigger Article 16 and force a conclusion, rather than allowing the status quo and negotiations to carry on indefinitely.

“The government has however taken a naive approach thus far, there is a danger of being out-manoeuvred by the EU again, and there is a risk that they have not adequately prepared or positioned themselves for the potential fallout of triggering Article 16.”

On Monday, the UK Government said it is still prepared to trigger Article 16, although continued to remain tight-lipped over when this could happen.

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Downing Street insisted there is not timetable over whether or not it would unilaterally use the powers under the Protocol if changes to the deal cannot be agreed with the EU.

International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan had claimed the option would not be used before Christmas.

A Number 10 spokesman said: “Our preference remains to agree a negotiated solution if we can.

“Of course, we will use Article 16, the safety mechanism, if solutions can’t be found.”

Asked whether the UK would be willing to use it before Christmas, the spokesman added: “I’m not going to put a timetable on it.

“We continue to believe that the conditions for triggering that safety mechanism of Article 16 have been met.

“That remains the Government position but we will continue to look for a consensual negotiated solution.”

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