‘World is watching you Boris!’ PM warned triggering Article 16 could spark global backlash

Brexit debate ‘far from settled down’ says Alastair Campbell

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The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has argued the arrangements over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements simply aren’t working, and has demanded large parts of the mechanism are overhauled or completely torn up. Brussels has flat-out rejected this, instead offering the UK a set of proposals that ultimately fell well short of their demands. The repeated collapse in negotiations has led the UK’s Brexit minister to threaten the triggering of Article 16 of the protocol – which could see the agreement completely ripped apart.

However, the EU has warned it will retaliate with a vengeance if such a move is made, sparking fears a potentially destructive trade war could be imminent.

Political experts argued the EU will be able to absorb any trade war more efficiently than the UK, due to its size and ability to source alternative UK-sourced products within the bloc, at a cost that will be far less than the UK trying to do similar.

On the other hand, the UK being outside the EU could count against it here, as several EU member states have negligible trade with Britain.

But Alistair Jones, Associate Politics Professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, sent a huge warning to the UK if it does indeed decide to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Commenting on a possible trade war, he told Express.co.uk: “The potential problem is bigger than this.

“If the UK picks a trade war with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, for example, the rest of the world will see the UK Government as reneging on a treaty agreement.

“This will undermine trust in the UK Government around the world – especially as the UK has repeatedly failed to implement the NI Protocol properly.

“If there are grounds where the EU is in the wrong (fishing licences), there may be a degree of sympathy for the UK outside of the EU but that will not help in a trade war.

“Regardless of the rights and wrongs, or where the blame should be placed, businesses may continue leaving the UK and relocating much of the operations – and even headquarters – in the EU.”

Wyn Grant, a political scientist from Warwick University, warned Britain could be “hit hard” by any resulting trade war retaliation from the EU in response to Article 16 being triggered.

He said the EU would have a number of options at its disposal, including slapping UK exports with tariffs and cutting off power supplies.

While the UK could respond, “this would increase the risk of the whole trade agreement being ended”.

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Professor Grant told Express.co.uk: “The EU could take measures including putting tariffs on UK exports, increasing checks at the border and cutting off electricity and gas supplies.

“Britain could be hit hard.

“The motor industry would be the most affected. It would exacerbate post Brexit problems the economy already has.

“It is the case that some member states have limited trade with the UK and goods produced in the UK could be produced elsewhere.

“The UK could impose retaliatory tariffs on EU exports, but this would increase the risk of the whole trade agreement being ended.

“A trade war should be avoided if at all possible.”

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