Brexit: Maros Sefcovic says UK needs to ‘dial down rhetoric’
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And the former Brexit Party MEP fears if the Northern Ireland treaty is not resolved, “bloodshed” could follow. Speaking yesterday, Mr Sefcovic, who is the European Commissioner responsible for relations with Britain, pointed the finger at London for problems in resolving ongoing tensions over the Protocol and issued what some have interpreted as a veiled threat.
Mr Habib told Express.co.uk: “Maros Sefcovic, Vice-president of the European Commission, has the air of a headmaster disciplining an errant child in his dealings with the UK.
“Indeed, every EU official throughout the Brexit negotiations and since has treated the UK in the same way.
“In itself, this arrogance could be shrugged off as inconsequential but when it comes to negotiations it is critical that one party does not allow itself to be pushed around.”
Mr Habib said: “The EU is a bully. Instead of standing up to them, successive UK governments have bent over in timidity to take the cane.”
The result of what he called the UK’s “timidity” was not just “humiliation” but a “lousy” Brexit deal, Mr Habib claimed.
He explained: “A deal which included, amongst its litany of sell-outs, Northern Ireland, thus making the UK the first country in history voluntarily to partition itself.
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The offending instrument is the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“This Protocol was born of and propagated on a false narrative; that the Belfast Agreement prohibits customs checks on the island of Ireland.
“With that narrative established, Sefcovic was given free rein to chide the UK for its reticence in fulfilling its Protocol obligations.”
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Turning his attention to the UK, Mr Habib, a staunch critic of Boris Johnson, added: “Our government is caught between a rock of its false promise not to impose an Irish Sea border and the EU’s contractual hard right to require one.
“The Prime Minister has no one to blame than himself. He did not need to agree this.
“Fortitude, foresight, planning and leadership would have prevented the EU from being able to secure this massive concession.
“The Protocol and its Irish Sea border will eventually be ditched, even if the PM continues to fail to get a grip of it.
“In that event, it is likely to be accompanied by bloodshed.”
The NI Protocol, the mechanism agreed by the UK and the EU with the intention of preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland, is deeply unpopular within Northern Ireland’s Unionist community, who see it as having resulted in a border down the Irish Sea instead.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Mr Sefcovic said: “To be quite honest all these solutions are coming from our side.
“It’s quite clear that, if we do not see positive developments, that the atmosphere would be more sour, making it more difficult to look for political compromises. The political environment would be much more challenging.”
Pointedly, Mr Sefcovic warned Lord David Frost in a call last week of “increased impatience in the EU to see the solutions the UK now will bring to the table”.
A UK Government spokesman responded: “The EU continues to treat the regulatory boundary in the Irish Sea as if it were like any other external EU border, even though there is very limited risk to the single market.
“This is resulting in reduced availability and choice on supermarket shelves, cancelled deliveries, retailers pulling products, and interference with the movements of pets and parcels.
“Such sustained disruption is undermining the protocol as a whole.”
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