DUBLIN – The European Commission could suspend the Brexit trade deal if Britain stops enforcing EU rules in Northern Irish ports, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Tuesday.
Varadkar said the Irish government’s Brexit subcommittee had met again to “dust off and resume our emergency preparations” for a possible suspension of the EU-UK trade and cooperation agreement agreed in December 2020.
When asked if Ireland was ready for a possible trade war with Britain, Top market for the export of food and drink, Varadkar told RTÉ Radio in Dublin: “We are making preparations.”
Varadkar – who was Ireland’s prime minister during most of the Brexit negotiations and is set to recapture the top post in December 2022 – said the British seemed intent on breaking last year’s treaty agreements.
“I don’t think anyone wants the European Union to suspend the trade and cooperation agreement with the UK,” said Varadkar. “But if Britain acted to be different from the [Northern Ireland] Protocol adopted from the Withdrawal Agreement, the European Union would have no choice but to initiate what we call compensatory measures in order to respond. “
“I really hope Britain doesn’t go down that path. prime minister [Boris] Johnson always talked about getting Brexit done, ”he said. “Brexit is over, so to speak. But that may undo it. “
In Northern Ireland, UK trade unionists and Irish nationalist leaders made polarized demands on the UK region government during a video conference call with UK’s top Brexit negotiator, David Frost.
First Minister Paul Givan – whose Democratic Unionist Party supports Brexit but loathes the Northern Ireland trade rules agreed by Frost and Johnson – said he still expects Britain to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol Treaty and at least some controls on British goods coming into arriving at the ports, sets from Belfast and Larne.
But Sinn Féin’s Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill accused both Frost and Givan’s DUP of making anti-protocol threats angering militant unionists. Two buses were hijacked and set on fire in Belfast and the eastern suburb of Newtownards last week, leading to the partial suspension of bus services in some union districts.
“Tory threats and rhetoric are inconsiderate and contrary to widespread public opinion” O’Neill said in a post-meeting tweet. “Most parties, people and companies want an urgent solution to make the protocol work better. [The] The burden is on him [Frost] to kick and deliver it. “
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