The Daily Telegraph

Johnson ‘didn’t understand Brexit treaty’, says Starmer

- By James Crisp EUROPE EDITOR

SIR Keir Starmer yesterday accused Boris Johnson of not having read or understood the Brexit treaty and hinted Labour would cave to EU demands over Northern Ireland if it held power.

The UK and EU are on the brink of a trade war as they argue over the implementa­tion of the Northern Ireland Protocol and its Irish Sea border with Britain. The Protocol means checks are carried out on British goods exported to Northern Ireland, which continues to follow some EU rules, to prevent a hard Irish border with EU member Ireland.

Mr Johnson has demanded fewer burdensome checks on British goods and argued that they pose a threat to the “territoria­l integrity” of the UK.

Sir Keir told LBC radio that the checks were “not the way forward” but added: “We can’t have this stand-off and both sides need to negotiate … The Prime Minister said there wouldn’t be checks – that’s how he sold his deal. He didn’t read it, didn’t understand it, or he didn’t tell us the truth about it when he said what it had in it.”

His interventi­on comes after the “sausage trade war” dominated the G7 meeting with EU leaders including Emmanuel Macron piling pressure on Mr Johnson to cave to their demands. Brussels has called on Britain to sign a Swissstyle veterinary agreement, which would mean Britain aligning with EU food safety and animal health rules.

The EU says this would remove the need for 80 per cent of checks in the Irish Sea but the UK has rejected any suggestion of dynamic alignment on sovereignt­y grounds.

A Labour source said: “We think that the PM should be pursuing serious solutions – such as a veterinary agreement – which could lower the barriers across the Irish Sea, which his deal has created.”

Unless a veterinary agreement can be found by the time a grace period in the Protocol expires at the end of June, British chilled meats will be banned in Northern Ireland from July 1.

Brussels has warned it could retaliate with punishment­s if Mr Johnson unilateral­ly extends the grace period to protect sausage supplies to Northern Ireland. It would be the third time the UK had overridden the Protocol, which Brussels says breaks internatio­nal law.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom