EU accused of ‘kicking’ politicians around ‘like a football’ in tense Brexit border row

The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal agreed by the UK and Brussels, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods. This means checks on goods being sent from Great Britain into the single market in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products which do not comply with EU rules.

But following unionist protests over the Protocol with fears it could undermine the 1998 Good Friday Agreement and create a border in the Irish Sea, the UK and EU are currently finding solutions to resolve the implementation of the arrangements.

Jeffrey Donaldson, Democratic Unionist Party leader, and Jim Allister, Traditional Unionist Voice chief, today warned the Belfast Agreement has “been ripped up” by the Protocol.

The politicians claimed the Protocol has introduced “seismic changes in the constitutional position of Northern Ireland”.

The pair also warned about protests and unrest caused by the trading arrangements over the summer.

They stressed: “It is little wonder that there has been civic unrest in Northern Ireland as unionists fearful about the future, angry at being betrayed by their own government, being kicked around as a negotiating football by the EU and seeing all the political means of resistance blocked, seek for other ways to register their frustration and fears.”

In a joint statement in the Irish Times, the pair continued: “We have no desire to see rioting in our streets, young people getting criminal records and damaging headlines across the world resulting in a flight of investment from our already-damaged economy.

“The reason why the unrest has not spilled over into greater disorder is due to the work which we, our parties and community workers have been doing to prevent it.”

Meanwhile, Leo Varadkar’s Fine Gael party suggested the Northern Ireland Protocol isn’t “going anywhere”.

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Mr Richmond claimed the UK’s threats were “being taken seriously” by the European Commission but didn’t provide any solution.

Mairead McGuinness, EU financial services commissioner, also told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show yesterday: “I don’t think that that is the first approach, we should try and find solutions. I think threats are not helpful and I think Article 16 is used in very extreme circumstances.”

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