EU’s trade war threat dismissed by Boris Johnson

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The Prime Minister says the long-awaited legislation to suspend large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol was “not a big deal”.

He added that the “trivial” changes would make it easier for some goods to move between Britain and Northern Ireland.

But the EU is against the move, saying it would break international law. Mr Johnson said: “Frankly, it’s a relatively trivial set of adjustments in the grand scheme of things.”

“All we are trying to do is simplify things, actually, to remove the barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”

The PM then went on to say it would be “preposterous” to respond with trade restrictions “when all we are trying to do is have some bureaucratic simplifications”.

Publishing her Northern Ireland Protocol Bill yesterday, the Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the legislation was a “reasonable, practical solution” to what was an “untenable” situation in Northern Ireland.

The laws are designed to reduce the checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which are opposed by unionists who argue the Protocol undermines the province’s place in the UK.

The Democratic Unionist Party will not re-enter power-sharing at Stormont until the deal is changed. But critics in Northern Ireland have described the powers as “reckless”.

A majority of non-unionist members in the Stormont Assembly signed a joint letter to Mr Johnson rejecting “in the strongest possible terms” the “reckless new Protocol legislation, which flies in the face of the expressed wishes of not just most businesses, but most people in Northern Ireland”.

The UK’s preference is to negotiate a solution with the EU but the Prime Minister’s official spokesman insisted domestic powers were needed as an “insurance policy”.

Ms Truss added: “We can only make progress through negotiations if the EU are willing to change the Protocol.”

But Irish premier Micheal Martin said: “It’s very regrettable for a country like the UK to renege on an international treaty.”

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