EU warned against trade war with Brexit Britain: They have got more to lose!

Peter Bone discusses Chris Bryant's Brexiteer retweet

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson has turned down Brussels’ latest attempt to solve problems with the post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland, insisting that the withdrawal agreement signed last year must be renegotiated. A series of proposals published by the European Commission on Monday were said to be “not enough” for the scale of the problems. A UK Government spokesperson said the two sides instead needed “comprehensive and durable solutions”.

David Frost, the minister responsible for Brexit issues, has said that without a major change to the legal text of the protocol, the Government will consider triggering article 16 of the EU-UK agreement, which will suspend parts of the deal.

Such a move would be permitted where it can be shown that “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties” are arising.

However, the Commission would probably challenge such a decision, raising the risk of trade sanctions down the line.

Dr Graham Gudgin, Policy Exchange’s chief economic adviser, warned Brussels against starting a trade war with Britain, though.

He wrote: “What if the EU took retaliatory actions under the withdrawal agreement?

“If these amounted to a trade war with tariffs or quotas on a selection of UK exports the UK could survive these.

“The EU has more to lose from a trade war because of the current imbalance of UK-EU trade.

“If the EU attempted to use other agreements, such as aircraft landing rights, the situation would be more serious, but since this would constitute a serious breach between friendly democratic neighbours it sounds too draconian to be applicable to a peripheral dispute about tiny amounts of trade on the island of Ireland. “

He added in his report for Briefings for Britain: “Number 10 is naturally keen not to get into these deep waters and hence the careful language of the command paper.

“It will seek to play this long, but with an Assembly election due in Northern Ireland next May, the timescale is not infinite.”

JUST IN: Switzerland sides with Brexit Britain on key international treaty

Wyn Grant, a British political scientist and professor of politics at the University of Warwick, told Express.co.uk the EU will not “blink first”, though.

He said: “The EU and the UK have reached an impasse in their negotiations.

“Admittedly, the UK could follow Switzerland in temporarily accepting agriculture and veterinary regulations (which is where the main problems are), but that would be seen as incompatible with the spirit of Brexit.

“The UK signed up to the Protocol, but does not seem to realise its implications, or at least thought that the EU would interpret it ‘pragmatically’ or ‘flexibly’ which does not happen in a continental law tradition.”

He added: “The EU is not going to blink first and is prepared to take further legal action and/or impose tariffs on UK exports.

“Trust has broken down between the parties. There are not many options for the UK in terms of retaliation.

“Tensions could escalate much further than anticipated.

“Hanging over it all is the threat of a turbulent summer in Northern Ireland and substantial damage to the peace process.”

The Prime Minister has also been told to back down in the UK’s explosive row with the EU as it’s a battle he can’t win and would be foolish to retaliate against any punishment from Brussels.

Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics and a University Teacher Fellow at De Montfort in Leicester warned Brussels “is in the right” and “holds all the cards” in the escalating row over the Protocol.

He told Express.co.uk: “The EU is in the right. They were in the wrong over the vaccines issue earlier this year, when Ursula von der Leyen activated Article 16 and then retracted within hours of issuing it.

“In that circumstance, as she subsequently admitted, she was in the wrong.

“Currently, the EU has the upper hand and holds all the cards.

“The UK has tried to bluff everything, for example asking for extra time before enforcing the agreement.

“Lord Frost has suggested that the EU is in the wrong by not allowing any flexibility.

“They do not need to, as the Protocol was approved by Parliament.”

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