London, May 12 (EFE).- The United Kingdom will have “no choice but to act” if the European Union is not flexible over the Northern Ireland protocol, foreign secretary Liz Truss warned on Thursday.
Truss made the remarks during a phone conversation with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic in which she argued that the lack of agreement over the Northern Ireland protocol was “a matter of internal peace and security” that could threaten the 1998 Good Friday peace deal that ended decades of sectarian violence, a period known as The Troubles.
The NI protocol is a key part of the post-Brexit agreement that imposes border checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
One of the main aspects of the Good Friday agreement was to establish a so-called soft border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, which was seen as crucial to maintaining the peace.
The issue has been a source of tension since it was established last year.
“If the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then as a responsible government we would have no choice but to act,” a government statement said.
In a statement following the phone call, Sefcovic said the UK government’s intention to “embark on the path of unilateral action” was a “serious concern”.
“Such unilateral action will also undermine the conditions which are essential for Northern Ireland to continue to have access to the EU single market for goods,” he said.
Prime minister Boris Johnson said in April that he would push for legislation that would allow his government to unilaterally annul parts of the protocol.
Jeffrey Donaldson, the leader of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which finished second to Republican Sinn Finn in an historic election last week, has called on London to state unequivocally that it is prepared to take unilateral action if there is no significant progress in its negotiations with Brussels, a move that would prolong the institutional crisis in Northern Ireland and unleash a trade war between the UK and the EU.
After Republican Sinn Fein became the largest party in the Northern Ireland Assembly for the first time, Donaldson said his party would refuse to form a power-sharing government until issues with the protocol are dealt with. EFE