Friday 11 June 2021 9:08 pm

G7: EU leaders to heap pressure on Boris Johnson over Northern Ireland row

Boris Johnson is set to face pressure from EU leaders in a series of G7 summit meetings tomorrow over how to manage the post-Brexit situation in Northern Ireland.

Negotiations about the future of checks on goods going between Northern Ireland and Great Britain are deadlocked, after Johnson refused a Brussels proposal for the UK to temporarily revert to EU food standards.

Both sides have stressed that a deal needs to be completed soon to ease tensions in Northern Ireland and to prevent a stand-off over sausages and other chilled meats.

Sausages produced in Great Britain will not be able to be sent to Northern Ireland from the end of this month as a Northern Ireland Protocol transition period ends.

The EU is not allowing chilled meats produced in Great Britain to come in to Northern Ireland, which follows EU customs union and single market rules, as they deem them a biosecurity threat – a situation considered to be untenable by the UK.

When asked if the Prime Minister is considering ignoring the sausage export ban, something the EU has said may cause a trade war, Johnson’s spokesperson said “all options are on the table”.

Johnson will meet with French President Emmanuel Macron and German chancellor Angela Merkel in separate one-on-one meetings tomorrow.

He will also meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel.

The row over Northern Ireland is set to feature heavily in the discussions, with Macron already setting out his stance last night before arriving in Cornwall.

“I think it’s not serious to want to review in July what we finalised after years of debate and work in December,” he said.

“This is not an issue between the UK and France, it is an issue between Europeans and the UK.”

UK-EU minister Lord David Frost is expected to sit in with Johnson in at least some of his meetings to lay out the UK’s position on Northern Ireland.

Frost wants Brussels to be less bureaucratic in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol and to apply less customs checks on goods going between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The EU, meanwhile, do not want unchecked goods entering their single market through Northern Ireland.

Both sides have accused the other of putting the Belfast Good Friday Peace Agreement at risk over the row.

Speaking to the BBC today, Michael Gove said: “Sometimes when people look at the protocol, they think it is all or nothing at all. We have resolved some of the challenges that have existed but there are other challenges which do need to be tackled effectively.

“I believe there is a willingness within pragmatic figures within the European Union to make sure that we can make these arrangements work so that they do not impact adversely on the lives of people across communities in Northern Ireland.”

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