BORIS JOHNSON faces a showdown with EU leaders on Saturday in a series of crunch meetings on the sidelines of the G7.
Brexit tensions have reached boiling point in recent days, with a row over the export of sausages to Northern Ireland threatening to overshadow the international summit. The fallout over the Northern Ireland Protocol, implemented as part of the withdrawal agreement, has sparked a fresh war of words between the UK and EU.
While the Prime Minister has been eager to keep the attention of the G7 on fighting coronavirus, climate change and promoting democratic values around the world, today Brexit will take centre stage.
This morning Mr Johnson will hold back to back meetings with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Angela Merkel before confronting European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of the European Council, Charles Michel.
Just hours before welcoming EU leaders to Carbis Bay in Cornwall the Prime Minister lashed out at Brussels for taking an “excessively burdensome” approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements.
Under the terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol, bureaucratic customs checks are required on some goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain.
A similar story appears in the Telegraph.
BREXIT backing Tory MP John Redwood has expressed anger at the EU’s level of representation at the G7 summit in Cornwall.
Both the European Commission and European Council presidents are attending, in addition to the seven national leaders. Mr Redwood argued this means the EU effectively has five representatives at the summit.
He tweeted: “The EU at the G7 can be represented by Germany, France and Italy, three voices.
“So why does the EU also get to send two EU Presidents as well to give them a majority?”
The post was widely shared receiving over 600 retweets and 2,800 likes.
The US, UK, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Canada make up the seven G7 members.
European leaders will warn Boris Johnson today they are prepared to start a trade war with Britain.
Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, and President Macron of France will use one-to-one meetings with the prime minister in Cornwall to demand that he honours the terms of the Brexit deal in relation to Northern Ireland.
The co-ordinated diplomatic offensive at the G7 summit will be backed by Ursula von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, president of the European Council, who will formally reiterate the European Union’s demands at a separate meeting.
BORIS JOHNSON came out fighting last night as “sausage wars” with the EU escalated. Downing Street refused to rule out the UK taking unilateral action to ensure British chilled meats continue to go to Northern Ireland.
As the Prime Minister welcomed EU leaders to the G7 in Cornwall, his official spokesman said: “We keep all options on the table.” However, No10 officials said the summit “is not the forum” for a breakthrough in the stand-off. Ahead of travelling to Cornwall, French President Emmanuel Macron said the UK’s request for the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit deal to be revised was “not serious”, adding: “Nothing is negotiable.” But Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab hit out at this “dogmatic, purist approach”, saying: “We want it to work for all sides, but the change must come from the Commission’s side, and the way they are approaching this. We are not negotiating or haggling the integrity of the United Kingdom…that is not on the table.”
The PM will hold separate talks with Mr Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel at the summit.
They will be followed by a meeting with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, European Council president.
And all four EU figures are expected to press Mr Johnson over rules on chilled meats and other products under the Northern Ireland Protocol of his Brexit deal.
Brexit minister Lord Frost has already refused to rule out the possibility that the UK could unilaterally delay imposing checks on British-made chilled meats which are due to start at the end of the month.
Mr Macron has warned the Brexit deal cannot be renegotiated. He said: “It’s not serious to want to review in June what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.”
The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “We continue to have discussions with the EU and we’re seeking to urgently come up with a range of proposals within the protocol to find a way forward.”
Downing Street played down expectations of Mr Johnson finding a resolution to the impasse at the summit. The Prime Minister’s spokesman said: “This is not the forum in which he is necessarily seeking to come up with an immediate solution.”
A HUGE Brexit trade war could be about to explode between the UK and European Union, after a leading expert warned France could interrupt the electricity supply running to Jersey and even parts of mainland Britain.
Brexit tensions between the UK and European Union soared after talks between the UK Brexit minister Lord Frost and European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic on Wednesday collapsed over a solution to the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. The EU has threatened to launch a trade war against Britain if it does not implement checks on goods entering Northern Ireland under the terms of the Brexit deal, with Mr Sefcovic warning patience with the UK is wearing “very, very thin”.
Lord Frost has refused to rule out the prospect of the UK unilaterally delaying the imposition of checks on British-made sausages and other chilled meats due to come into force at the end of this month.
But Mujtaba Rahman, managing director of Europe for political risk consultancy Eurasia Group, has warned the trade retaliation from the EU could stretch to lengths greater than anyone could have previously imagined.
In a note following the breakdown in talks between the UK and EU, the analyst wrote: “In a more extreme scenario of a UK suspension of the Protocol, the EU could choose to do something across a variety of sectors.
“One example is electricity, as the UK is a net importer, primarily from France, which supplies much of Jersey and a small percentage of mainland Great Britain’s needs.”
A government body has recommended the removal of limits inherited from the EU on about half of the UK’s steel imports, in a move that provoked fury from British producers.
The Trade Remedies Authority (TRA) said on Friday that it would revoke the limits on nine categories of steel product, including some bars and wires, meaning imports will no longer face steep tariffs after quotas are filled. It extended limits for three years on another 10 products, including some steel for railways, gas pipes and large sheets.
The EU introduced the limits in 2019 to protect the industry from a glut of steel products diverted from the US after Donald Trump imposed tariffs.
The TRA is sponsored by the Department for International Trade, run by Liz Truss. She has to sign off on the authority’s recommendations, but she is expected to accept them.
Gareth Stace, the director general the industry lobby group UK Steel, said the decision was a “hammer blow” and “utter madness” that would leave UK producers vulnerable to import surges. “On their first major test in a post-Brexit trading environment, the UK’s new system has failed our domestic steel sector,” he said.
The TRA removed the limits on some products because it did not find evidence that the UK was importing them in large quantities, or that increased imports would cause significant damage to the UK steel industry as a whole.
EU fishermen have been granted the right to “plunder” UK waters of red mullet, scallops and lobster after Britain failed to set limits on the amount that can be caught in a post-Brexit agreement.
The Telegraph can reveal that, under the terms of the UK’s first annual fisheries agreement with Brussels since Brexit, more than 1,600 European boats will be allowed to catch an unlimited amount of non-quota species for the remainder of this year.
Large Dutch vessels, which have begun moving into Channel waters and use controversial high-powered fishing techniques, are expected to benefit most.
Non-quota stocks include crab, lobster, scallops and red mullet and account for almost a third of larger British vessels’ income, rising to 80 per cent for smaller craft under 10 metres.
Fishermen called the decision “utterly negligent”, while environmental campaigners said they feared an impending “ecological tragedy” from overfishing as EU boats exploit the temporary relaxation of limits agreed in the Brexit trade deal.
EU countries have agreed to ease summer travel restrictions that will allow fully vaccinated tourists to avoid tests or quarantines – but not British holidaymakers.
People who have been fully vaccinated for 14 days should be able to travel freely from one EU country to another, according to a proposal approved by ambassadors from the 27 members.
Restrictions for other travellers should be based on the degree to which the country they are coming from has coronavirus infections under control.
Thanks to the spread of the Indian variant, that means the UK is currently off the list of approved countries.
The guidelines come as the EU introduces Covid certificates which will show whether a person is vaccinated, has had the virus or had a recent negative test. The system is set to be ready by July 1, although some countries will launch certificates earlier.
Non-EU members of the Schengen zone, such as Iceland and Norway, will also be able to take advantage of the scheme.
BORIS Johnson is set to delay lockdown lifting “freedom day” to July 19 after cases of the mutant Indian strain exploded by 240 per cent in just a week, The Sun can reveal.
Under plans drawn up to be announced on Monday, a two-week review will be included meaning Covid restrictions could be dropped on July 5 if hospitalisations stay down.
But multiple sources told the Sun the chances of lifting restrictions as planned on June 21 were close to zero – in a massive blow to Wembley hosting of the Euros.
Group games will have a 25 per cent stadium cap – 22,500 fans – with that hopefully rising to around 45,000 for the Semis and the July 11 Final.
It had been hoped Wembley could be full of fully jabbed or tested fans by then, but the delay to the last phase of the roadmap has scotched that.
Running the big matches as pilots for Covid certification trials means the capacity numbers can be stretched, but there will still be thousands of empty seats.
The Indian variant appears to be predominantly affecting people who are not yet fully vaccinated, figures show.
Of those who have attended A&E with the strain, more than two in three were completely unvaccinated.
And just 7 per cent were more than two weeks on from receiving their second dose – the point at which people are considered fully protected.
Meanwhile, only 42 people with the variant, also known as the Delta strain, have required an overnight stay in hospital two weeks or more after receiving their second jab.
And of those who have died in England with the Indian variant, more than half were completely unvaccinated.
Public Health England said yesterday that more than 90 per cent of new Covid-19 cases are now the Indian variant, with research suggesting it is associated with an approximately 60 per cent increased risk of household transmission compared with the Kent strain.
Cases are estimated to be doubling every four and a half days in parts of England, with 42,323 cases confirmed in the UK, up by 29,892 from last week.
Growth rates for the variant are high across all parts of the country, PHE added.
It said that as of June 7, there have been 42 deaths in England of people who were confirmed as having the Indian variant.
A similar story appears in the Guardian.