Brexit: Northern Ireland protocol 'unsustainable' says Burns

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An EU insider has claimed the bloc would launch infringement procedures against the UK and suspend the Brexit trade agreement if Liz Truss puts forward legislation to rip up the Northern Ireland Protocol. Negotiations between the two sides have long been in stalemate as neither can reach a compromise on the de facto border in place between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The Foreign Secretary reportedly delivered a 72-hour deadline for the EU to comply with UK demands or she will begin the steps to lift the protocol.

According to Bloomberg, who the unnamed EU source spoke to, the bloc is prepared to freeze “the privileged access that UK companies have to the EU single market, [and] the bloc would also halt talks over the status of Gibraltar”.

The European Commission in Brussels would be responsible for taking the course of action on behalf of recommendations by negotiators, who so far have failed to find a solution that works for both parties.

Following a phone call with Ms Truss, EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic said: “It continues to be of serious concern that the UK government intends to embark on the path of unilateral action”.

He claimed the EU has offered a range of solutions to remedy the issues brought up by the British Government.

He said: “We have made clear that there is still potential to be explored in our proposals. We are still awaiting the response from the UK side.”

Ms Truss said yesterday that she will not “shy away” from a unilateral break if a solution is not delivered over the protocol.

She said: “The current EU proposals fail to properly address the real issues affecting Northern Ireland and in some cases would take us backward.”

What would happen if the EU suspended the Brexit trade deal?

Based off what would happen in a no-deal Brexit scenario, a suspension of Brexit trade deals would have a significant effect on the UK.

It would mean the UK would automatically go on to World Trade Organization terms with EU countries.

As part of the Brexit trade deal, goods to and from the EU are tariff and quote free, according to GOV.UK, providing they meet the ‘Rules of Origin’ requirements.

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But this would change if such a scenario comes into play.

According to the BBC in 2020, tariffs on certain goods coming from the UK stood at 2.8 percent for non-agricultural products, 10 percent for cars and more than 35 percent for dairy products.

It could also spell disaster for Northern Ireland, meaning there is potential for a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.

This would break the paramount Good Friday Agreement if so, which was enacted to stabilise Northern Ireland during the Troubles.

The Northern Ireland protocol was designed to protect Northern Ireland from such an event happening.

It is likely the EU and UK would safeguard this, however, knowing that the preservation of the Belfast agreement is absolutely essential in keeping peace.

Fishing would also come under threat. Without any deal in place, non-UK fishing boats would lose access to our waters, and UK boats could not fish in EU waters.

Any scenario like this would hopefully be short-lived, with both sides likely moving to suspend the Brexit trade deal as an absolute last resort.

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