EU 'using Northern Ireland to undo Brexit' says Sammy Wilson
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Tensions between London and Brussels soared after talks between the UK Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic on Wednesday collapsed over a solution to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The EU has threatened to launch a trade war against Britain if it does not implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal, with Mr Sefcovic warning patience with the UK is wearing “very, very thin”.
Lord Frost has refused to rule out the prospect of the UK unilaterally delaying the imposition of checks on British-made sausages and other chilled meats due to come into force at the end of this month.
But Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of Europe for political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, has warned the trade retaliation from the EU could stretch to lengths greater than anyone could have previously imagined.
In a note following the breakdown in talks between the YK and EU, the analyst wrote: “In a more extreme scenario of a UK suspension of the Protocol, the EU could choose to do something across a variety of sectors.
“One example is electricity, as the UK is a net importer, primarily from France, which supplies much of Jersey and a small percentage of mainland Great Britain’s needs.”
He warned another sector Brussels could target is fisheries, “as the EU is the main export market for UK fishermen”, and punishments could include import surcharges, or “longer customs administrative procedures that could prove sensitive for perishable goods”.
Despite being largely ignored during trade deal negotiations between the two sides, financial services and the City of London could also be a target, he warned, and Brussels “could slow pedal its decisions on ‘equivalence’ that would enable this trade in the future”.
In the event of an escalation in tensions and more tariff punishments were needed, Mr Rahman warned “high sugar produce, or even measures against iconic UK brands such as Scotch Whisky or Gin are possible candidates for retaliation”.
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