Brexit: Dominic Raab urges EU to be 'more pragmatic'
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The French leader warned Britain on Thursday that the post-Brexit deal it agreed with the European Union last December was not renegotiable. He said: “Nothing is renegotiable, everything must be applied.”
But Mr Macron’s latest swipe at Britain was met by the stern response of Foreign Minister Dominic Raab who hit back warning the “integrity of the UK” is what is far from negotiable.
Mr Raab said: “We do not negotiate or haggle the integrity of the UK, whether it is territorial, constitutional or the economic integrity of the UK, it is not on the table, this is not negotiable.”
The response prompted Generation Frexit leader Charles-Henri Gallois to mock President Macron on Twitter.
He said: “Emmanuel Macron is not used to this and does not understand.
“He who is ready to sacrifice everything from France on behalf of the EU!”
Mr Raab said Boris Johnson was eager to raise the protocol with the president so he could be “very clear on our position” but said the pair “didn’t linger on” the issue.
He told Sky News the Prime Minister was as able to explain that “we want a flexible, pragmatic approach”.
He added: “But for that to happen the EU must be less purist, more pragmatic and more flexible in the implementation of it.
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“The ball is very much in the EU’s court in relation to that.
“The bottom line for us is that the threat, the risk, to the Good Friday Agreement comes from the approach the EU has taken – a particularly purist approach.”
The Prime Minister suggested the European Union is taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson, who signed the Brexit divorce deal which included the Northern Ireland Protocol, insisted he was not trying to back out of the agreement.
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But he said the UK’s “internal market” had to be respected and “we just need to make it work”.
The EU has threatened to launch a trade war against Britain if it fails to implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit “divorce” settlement which Mr Johnson signed.
The prospect of a “sausage war” trade dispute came after Brexit minister Lord Frost refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to come into force at the end of the month.
The Protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.
The Prime Minister told the BBC: “You will understand that there are ways of enforcing the protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome.
“I just give you one statistic: 20 percent of the checks conducted across the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland, three times as many as happen in Rotterdam.”
At a press conference ahead of the G7 summit, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen insisted the Protocol is the “only solution” to prevent a hard border with the Republic and must be implemented in full.
She said: “We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the Protocol and the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement have to be implemented completely.”
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