Irish minister quizzed over Johnson's EU tactics
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BBC’s Nick Robinson told Ireland’s Minister for European Affairs that “the EU blinks if you are tough”. This comes amid fears of a full-scale trade war between the EU and UK as well as the suspension of the agreed Brexit deal. The current Brexit deadlock largely centres around the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The UK Government also wants to remove the role of the European Court of Justice as the arbitrator of disputes.
Mr Robinson challenged Thomas Byrne on the ongoing tensions, and whether the EU will bow to British pressure yet again.
The host for the BBC’s Today programme host said: “The concessions that the EU has made feed a sense in Downing Street that the EU only responds to threats.
“Those around Boris Johnson believe that the EU blinks if you are tough.”
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He continued: “They blinked when there was a threat of a no-deal Brexit.
“They blinked when they refused to move on French trawlers and fishing,
“And you changed many of those trading arrangements only when you really were worried that he might tear up the deal altogether.”
In response, Mr Byrne said a “tough guy” approach to Northern Ireland will lead to “disaster”.
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When questioned on his warning, he refused to “spell out” what disaster would mean, adding only “it is unthinkable”.
He continued: “The EU has come up with some really, really constructive proposals on Northern Ireland.
“We hope the British Government can bring more to the table.”
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The Irish minister added: “There is a serious danger of complete instability in Northern Ireland and that’s what motivates the Irish Government in all of our dealings in relation to the protocol.
“We now have a division, it seems, because of threats by the British government to, what they say, is to suspend the protocol under Article 16.
“We’re not entirely clear what that’s about.”
His comments come as the latest round of talks between the EU and the UK are due to begin in London, with European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič meeting Britain’s Brexit minister David Frost.
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