Theresa May’s ‘weakness’ blamed as ‘source of problem’ behind bitter Brexit spat with EU
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Under the terms of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, customs checks take place on some goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The move has infuriated unionists who argue it undermines British sovereignty.
However, Patrick O’Flynn, a former UKIP MEP, argued Mrs May’s “weakness” was the real reason the concession was made.
He tweeted: “Theresa May supporters today berating Johnson and Frost for the faults of the Northern Ireland Protocol is a bit rich.
“The source of the problem was May’s weakness at the negotiating table having given away UK leverage and narrowed options.”
Earlier this year the EU launched legal action against the UK after the British Government unilaterally delayed imposing some customs checks.
Anger over the Protocol was partially attributed to loyalist rioting across Northern Ireland in April.
There are fears of further tensions unless the situation is resolved by July, the height of the loyalist marching season.
However Gavin Barwell, formerly Mrs May’s chief of staff, hit back at Mr O’Flynn.
He replied: “Utter drivel.
“The May government got the EU to back down on their original proposals for a NI-only backstop and Johnson/Frost then accepted what the EU had wanted all along.
“And if Boris really believed no deal was a good outcome he could have fought election on no deal manifesto.”
Both the UK and EU said they opposed a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, to safeguard the peace process.
Mrs May proposed Britain remaining part of the same customs territory as the EU, but this was rejected in Parliament by MPs.
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Talks between the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator Lord Frost and the EU’s Marcos Sefcovic ended on Wednesday without agreement.
Edwin Poots, the new DUP leader, tweeted: “The engagement between Lord Frost and Maros Sefcovic has been described as ‘frank but more talking is not what Northern Ireland needs.
“We need the NI Protocol to be removed.
“If Brussels is deaf to the problems, then our Government must act unilaterally to protect Northern Ireland.”
On Twitter Mr O’Flynn argued the Northern Ireland Protocol should be scrapped unless Brussels compromises.
He commented: “Frost has proved a tough negotiator – he needs to be so again.
“The prospect of the UK just dumping the protocol should give sufficient leverage to force the EU to radically improve it.
“If not then clearly the UK should scrap it.”
Britain formally left the EU in January 2020, with Mr Johnson’s new Brexit trade deal taking effect at the end of December.
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