Leading MEP threatens to veto Brexit deal as trade row explodes – Fury at Frost’s ‘games’

Brexit: Steve Barclay says government will ‘defend the UK’

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Luxembourg MEP Christophe Hansen said Boris Johnson’s plan to ignore EU red tape relating to the region could have severe consequences for the future relationship pact. The EU Parliament is still yet to vote to fully ratify the Trade and Cooperation Agreement. Parliamentary Brexit negotiator Mr Hansen said: “If this is David Frost’s idea of showing that he’s back to his old games, he should be mindful of the fact that the EU Parliament has not yet ratified the TCA yet and that the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement and its protocol is and remains a red line.”

MEPs were forced to delay their vote on the UK-EU trade and security treaty to give the European Council more time to translate the 1,240-page document into the bloc’s more than 20 official languages.

The row over the implementation of the Brexit divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border is now likely to feature in their consideration of trade pact.

Downing Street’s decision scrap swathes of Brussels red tape for Northern Ireland yesterday sparked a furious response from Brussels.

No10 Downing Street said it was necessary to keep trade flowing freely between Great Britain and NI until October.

The move will protect supermarket supply chains to the region.

Brussels accused No 10 of deliberately breaking the terms of the Brexit deal – and indicated it could retaliate.

Supermarkets will now have more time to prepare for life under the divorce deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol to avoid a hard border.

A grace period exempting trade between the UK and NI from some checks expires on March 31.

Britain has proposed extending the current measures for a further six months to avoid a cliff-edge for business in the region.

Ireland has claimed Britain could face legal action as a result of the unilateral move to extend the grace periods.

Foreign minister Simon Coveney said: “That is why the EU is now looking at legal options and legal action which means a much more formalised and rigid negotiation process as opposed to a process of partnership where you try to solve the problems together.” 

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But he added that legal action is not Dublin’s favoured route to resolve the dispute.

“If the UK cannot simply be trusted because they take unilateral action in an unexpected way without negotiation, well then the British government leaves the EU with no option and that is not where we want to be,” he said.

And Ireland’s top eurocrat has hinted the City of London could be punished as a result.

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Financial services commissioner Mairead McGuinness said the wrangling over the NI Protocol would have an impact on separate talks about granting British bankers access to EU markets.

She said: “We are on track.

“Things like that don’t help build trust.”

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