Europe

UK ‘miscalculating’ over unilateral action to override Brexit treaty

Irish Foreign minister Simon Coveney has warned the UK against breaching international law over its plans to override the Northern Ireland Protocol.

At a meeting with his British counterpart, Coveney said London was trying to move the goalposts it has agreed as part of its Brexit deal with the EU.

Boris Johnson’s government has announced its intention to introduce legislation that would allow it to unilaterally suspend the protocol, an international agreement between Britain and the European Union that forms part of the UK-EU divorce treaty.

Coveney spoke to Euronews Brussels Correspondent Shona Murray after a meeting with his British counterpart Liz Truss, at which little progress was reportedly made.

The Irish foreign minister rejected suggestions coming from London that a trade war would be less likely given the need for unity over Russia’s war on Ukraine.

“I think that expectation from the British government has actually been turned on its head,” he said. “Any suggestion that the UK may be using the war in Ukraine… to try to create some kind of environment whereby setting aside a treaty between, or elements of a treaty between the EU and the UK would somehow be acceptable, I think is a miscalculation to put it mildly.”

Coveney argued that far from being inflexible as the UK government makes out, the EU has made proposals that could lead to a “landing zone” which protects the EU single market and the 1998 (Good Friday) peace accord, and allows goods to flow freely.

Unionists argue the protocol is undermining the peace process as it creates a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has said Congress won’t approve a trade deal with the UK if Britain scraps the Brexit agreement. She called for “good-faith negotiations” to resolve any differences over the protocol.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s spokesman, Jamie Davies, said the UK remains committed to reaching an agreement with the EU and has invited the bloc’s Brexit chief, Maros Sefcovic, for talks.

View Irish FM Simon Coveney’s comments in the report in the video player above.

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