Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove will meet Maros Sefcovic, vice-president of the European Commission, to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol in what is set to be a fiery discussion. Under the terms of the Brexit deal agreed by Boris Johnson, some checks now exist on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, infuriating Unionists.
The EU has now accused Britain of failing to properly enforce these checks and is demanding tougher action.
In a letter to the British Government, Mr Sefcovic complained customs posts in Northern Ireland are “not performed in compliance with the Withdrawal Agreement” with “very few identity checks”.
He claimed Border Control Posts based in Northern Irish ports were “not yet fully operational”.
However, there is a growing unionist campaign within Northern Ireland against any checks existing on trade with Great Britain.
Campaigners are demanding the UK scrap the Northern Ireland protocol in its entirety, as the EU threatened to do during a row over coronavirus drugs.
Graffiti has been reported across loyalist areas demanding “No Irish Sea border” whilst customs officials have been targeted with threats.
Reform Party leader Nigel Farage has backed the unionist demand and called for existing checks to be scrapped.
On Twitter, the BBC’s political correspondent Laura Kuenssberg warned the two sides appear to be deadlocked.
Writing yesterday evening on Twitter, she said: “UK and EU meeting to talk how the Northern Ireland protocol is working tomorrow.
“EU letter to Gove doesn’t give impression there’s any breakthrough in the offing.”
Northern Ireland first minister Arlene Foster, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, has urged the Government to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol to allow unrestricted trade.
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