Brexit: UK 'can't decide unilaterally' on protocol says Coveney
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The UK and the EU have been embroiled in a dispute over trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, with both sides accusing one another of acting in bad faith. The row centres over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol, after the UK unilaterally extended the grace periods for checks on goods until October. Over the next two years, Britain is due to hand the EU £20billion in Brexit ‘divorce’ payments, with more to follow in later years.
And a leading Brexiteer has called on certain financial payments from the EU to be stopped.
A subsequent poll of more than 4,000 Express.co.uk readers has found the overwhelming majority of readers believe the UK should halt payments to Brussels.
The survey conducted on Sunday, March 14, from 5.24pm to 9.30pm, asked 4,681 Express.co.uk readers: “Should Boris Johnson cut off EU cash after border spat?”
A huge 97 percent (4,556) believe the Prime Minister should stop EU funding.
Just over two percent (112) of respondents said the UK should not halt the payments.
Meanwhile, less than one percent (13) remained unsure and said they did not know.
A number of passionate Express.co.uk readers let their opinions known in the comments section of the poll story.
One reader wrote: “He should cut off everything until they come to their senses and treat the UK as an independent country.”
A second reader said: “Why are we still giving money to the EU? We are out.”
A third added: “We should not be paying the EU anything anymore, they have screwed the UK enough.”
A fourth said: “Rip up the agreement, go to WTO, do not pay EU any more money.”
Meanwhile, a fifth added: “Withhold payment, the EU have already broken the terms.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol was designed to prevent a hard border by keeping Belfast in the EU customs union and single market.
Since January, trade in Northern Ireland has been disrupted with firms on both sides hit with additional red tape when importing and exporting goods.
Last week, the UK took the unilateral decision to extend grace period and delay additional checks being introduced on animal products for a further six months.
The move prompted a furious response from Brussels and the bloc has triggered legal action against the UK.
DUP leader Arlene Foster has called for the protocol to be scrapped and the Prime Minister has acknowledged changes need to be made
Mark Francois, chair of the pro-Brexit European Research Group of MPs, has called on EU payments to be made contingent on a compromise over Northern Ireland.
He questioned why the UK was continuing to make Danegeld payments to the bloc – a land tax levied in Ango-Saxon England to protect against Danish invaders.
Mr Francois also lashed out at the EU’s conduct in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
In January, the European Commission took the unilateral decision to trigger Article 16 in bid to halt vaccine supplies to the UK – before making a swift U-turn.
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Mr Francois told the Daily Telegraph: “Since we left the transition period the EU’s attitude has been increasing bellicose.
“First they criticised our ‘British’ vaccine and then attacked us for not giving them enough of it; then they triggered Article 16, in some overnight spasm, to create a hard border they had sworn to avoid – and now they are petulantly refusing to ratify a trade deal which it took year to negotiate.
“As Brits, we traditionally honour our obligations but you have to ask yourself why are we continuing to pay this Danegeld to people who only treat us with open contempt in return?”
Lord Frost, the Cabinet Minister leading UK-EU negotiations, said the decision to extend the implementation of the protocol was taken to “address the direct and often disproportionate impact that aspects of the protocol are having on citizens of Northern Ireland, contrary to its intended purpose”.
Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney warned “politics is very strained” in the region due to the Northern Ireland Protocol and hit out at the UK for taking a decision on its own.
He said: “We cannot move forward on the basis of one side just deciding unilaterally ‘Well, this is what must be done and we can’t wait for the other sides to agree with us’, and that’s essentially what the British Government has done.”
Mr Johnson embarked on a visit to Northern Ireland on Friday and doubled-down in the UK’s decision to extend grace periods.
The Prime Minister pointed out the protocol was creating more processes and checks than it should and that is why the Government moved to delay its implementation until longer-term solutions are found with the EU.
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