Brexit LIVE: Top EU official hauled in to face questioning – using deal as bargaining chip

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The vice-president of the EU Commission will appear before a Stormont parliamentary committee as tensions between Brussels and the UK remain high. Amid the issues to businesses due to the Northern Ireland protocol, members of the Northern Ireland Assembly will tell the top EU official how the country is being “drowned out” post-Brexit. Former economy minister Diane Dodds has also claimed current EU leaders are using Northern Ireland to punish the UK over Brexit. 

The DUP assembly member also said the EU’s position on the protocol “defies logic” in an outburst against Brussels. 

She said: “Foolishly and narrow-mindedly though, the current crop of leaders in Brussels have sought to use Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip to punish the United Kingdom.

“Stability is best secured in Northern Ireland when there is broad support.

“Yet, not one single unionist MLA is a cheerleader for the protocol, but Maros Sefcovic still argues that it is the best outcome for Northern Ireland.”

SDLP member Colin McGrath, who will be a part of the committee will also warn the EU official that Northern Ireland is losing out on huge opportunities since the turn of the year. 

He told The Irish Times: “This is an important opportunity to reflect some of the concerns that have been raised with us about the operation of the protocol but, importantly, to make clear that we need to promote the unique benefits of dual market access that businesses and investors in Northern Ireland have.

“We have a unique competitive advantage that is being drowned out by the negativity surrounding the protocol.”

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7.58am update: Don’t do it! Boris warned retaliation against EU could DAMAGE global trade deal prospects

Boris Johnson has been warned an attempt from the UK to retaliate against the EU for any punishment over the Northern Ireland Protocol would be a “disaster” and could severely damage attempts to strike trade deals with other countries.

Alistair Jones, Associate Professor in Politics at De Montfort University, Leicester, told Express.co.uk: “Any attempt to retaliate would be a disaster.

“The rest of the world would see the UK making an agreement with the EU, then failing to abide by said agreement (even though it was ratified in the UK Parliament) and trying to pick a fight because they do not like what they have agreed or were unaware of the consequences of said agreement.

“It will do nothing for the UK’s international credibility or the attempts to strike deals with other countries.”

Professor Jones warned the EU has the “upper hand and holds all the cards” in the simmering dispute with the UK over the implementation of the Protocol, adding Britain will eventually be forced to “back down”.

7.35am update: Top EU official to be questioned over Northern Ireland 

Amid the escalating tensions in Northern Ireland, Maros Sefcovic vice-president of the EU Commission will appear before a Stormont committee today. 

Questioned by members of the assembly, some have labelled the EU’s stance over the controversial Northern Ireland protocol as without logic. 

Former economy minister Diana Dodds also criticised the EU for attempting to punish the UK over Brexit. 

She said, as reported by The Irish Times: “Foolishly and narrow-mindedly though, the current crop of leaders in Brussels have sought to use Northern Ireland as a bargaining chip to punish the United Kingdom.

“Stability is best secured in Northern Ireland when there is broad support.

“Yet, not one single unionist MLA is a cheerleader for the protocol, but Maros Sefcovic still argues that it is the best outcome for Northern Ireland.”

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