Boris Johnson mocks Barnier for French border U-turn

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The former top eurocrat suggested that Brussels throw its weight around and unilaterally introduce measures which would harm Brexit Britain. Mr Barnier – currently vying to become France’s next president – claimed that taking these extreme actions would make Boris Johnson understand the need to “respect” the withdrawal agreement he signed.

He spoke after Brexit Secretary Lord Frost warned that the UK could trigger Article 16 to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol to break the current deadlock between Westminster and Brussels.

Responding to these threats, the EU’s former top Brexit negotiator said: “It’s time at the European level to use the levers in the treaties to make the British respect their signature.

“There are levers that consist of reinstating tariffs, interrupting or suspending a part of the agreement, and then, more seriously, and the British need to be careful about this, it is possible to suspend an agreement if one party does not respect it.”

He went on: “Brexit is not a small matter. I say it in the book that I published.

“The first chapter is called ‘A warning’. We have to learn the lesson. If we don’t, we’re being irresponsible.

“There are reasons for Brexit that we need to understand. There is a popular feeling in many parts of the UK that also exists here.

“The feeling of being left behind, of poorly controlled immigration.

“We have to learn the lessons. If we don’t learn from this popular feeling, there will be another Brexit and I don’t want that. I don’t want another Brexit.”

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The protocol has effectively kept Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union – leading to checks on goods and services travelling between there and the rest of the UK.

It was introduced to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland – a key part of the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which ended decades of sectarian violence.

But the protocol has enraged much of the province’s Unionist community – who claim that it threatens their British identity.

Anger over the current state of play, and its threat to Northern Ireland’s peace process, has led the UK Government to repeatedly lobby Brussels to look again at the agreement.

What do you think about Mr Barnier’s comments? Click here and share your views below.

In a speech due tomorrow, Lord Frost will say: “Without new arrangements in this area the protocol will never have the support it needs to survive.

“The role of the ECJ (European Court of Justice) in Northern Ireland and the consequent inability of the UK government to implement the very sensitive arrangements in the protocol in a reasonable way has created a deep imbalance in the way the protocol operates.”

In response, European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic has called for both sides to come to a “reasonable solution” by December.

Mr Barnier also backed French fishermen in their dispute over post-Brexit fishing permits in UK waters.

He said: “The French fishermen are right. It’s a very simple thing. It’s about the reputation, the signature of the United Kingdom.

“Is Boris Johnson going to respect the signature he has put in three treaties or not?

“We have a reasonable fisheries agreement that Mr Johnson is not respecting today. I think there are ways to encourage them.

“The government has thought about it and it’s time at the European level to use the levers in the treaties to make the British respect their signature.

“There are levers that consist of reinstating tariffs, interrupting or suspending a part of the agreement, and then, more seriously, and the British need to be careful about this, it is possible to suspend an agreement if one party does not respect it.

“This possibility exists, but before arriving at this extreme position, there are intermediate measures that are foreseen in the treaties.”

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