'EU carefully watching' Katya Adler pinpoints how row over hated Brexit deal is poised

BRUSSELS is “carefully watching” the UK Government’s next Brexit move after Sinn Fein’s victory in the Northern Ireland elections, according to the BBC’s Katya Adler.

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The BBC’s Europe Editor said the EU is holding its breath after Sinn Fein’s victory in Northern Ireland – considering whether the UK Government will agree to either commit to or scrap the Brexit protocol.

Ms Adler said: “EU is carefully watching UK Government in case it decides not to adhere to the Northern Ireland Protocol part of the Brexit agreement.

“EU Commission Vice President [Maros] Sefcovic has called on UK gov to ‘dial down the rhetoric’ and ‘be honest about the deal they signed’ following elections in Northern Ireland where nationalist Sinn Fein became the largest party and the Democratic Unionists suggest they won’t go into power-sharing government with them unless the Northern Ireland Protocol is fundamentally changed.

“Sinn Fein wants the Protocol to stay, not be abolished.

“Brussels insiders say they are unsure how much of the row is provoked by UK internal politics and how much is actually focused on the practicalities of the Protocol.

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BBC Katya Adler says EU is ‘carefully watching’ the UK’s next moves on Brexit (Image: BBC)

“UK Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said that changes to the protocol ‘cannot be put off’.

“The EU says it has ‘absolutely no interest in interfering in the UK’s internal affairs’.

“It’s called on the UK Government to show ‘good faith’ to make the Protocol work.”

Mr Raab said on Sunday the Government would do what is required to resolve the issues around the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.

In a warning to Brussels, he told Sky News: “If anything, the outcome in Northern Ireland from those elections makes it clear it can’t be put off.”

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brexit news maros sefcovic northern ireland protocol

Brexit news: Sefcovic told the UK to ‘dial down rhetoric’ on the protocol (Image: GETTY)

He suggested it would be dealt with in the coming “weeks and months”, warning that stability in Northern Ireland was being “imperilled” by the dispute over the protocol – which was agreed by Boris Johnson’s Government as part of the Brexit divorce from the EU.

The deadlock will increase tensions between Westminster and Brussels, with the UK insisting all options remain on the table – including the possibility of unilaterally scrapping elements of the deal.

That could trigger a major breakdown in relations between the UK and European Union.

Responding to the threat, EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic blasted: “The EU has already shown a lot of flexibility by proposing impactful, durable solutions and we stand ready to continue discussions.

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“We need the UK Government to dial down the rhetoric, be honest about the deal they signed and agree to find solutions within its framework.”

The protocol effectively creates checks on goods flowing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to allow an open border with Ireland, which is within the EU’s single market and customs union.

“We will deal with the situation, we will take whatever measures are necessary to protect the economic as well as the constitutional integrity of Northern Ireland,” Mr Raab said on Sunday.

He believes the protocol had been used as a “political device” by Brussels.

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Roy Walsh

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