Truss Says She’ll Use Article 16 If EU Won’t Bend on N. Ireland
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. Foreign Secretary Liz Truss says she’s prepared to unilaterally override parts of the post-Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland if talks with the EU fail.
Truss, appointed as the U.K.’s Brexit negotiator in December, laid out her position in the Sunday Telegraph ahead of a key meeting with her EU counterpart on Thursday.
“When I see Maros Sefcovic this week for our first face-to-face talks, I’ll be putting forward our constructive proposals to resolve the situation,” Truss wrote. But describing the U.K. position as “a pragmatic compromise,” Truss said she’s “willing” to trigger Article 16 if needed.
“This safeguard clause was explicitly designed -- and agreed to by all sides -- to ease acute problems because of the sensitivity of the issues at play,” she wrote.
Britain’s main complaint is that the protocol, which places an effective customs border down the Irish Sea to ensure no hard border on the the island of Ireland, disrupts trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K. The protocol was signed and agreed by the British government in 2019.
Her predecessor, David Frost, who quit in protest over coronavirus restrictions, was an advocate of deploying Article 16 if necessary and wanted a major overhaul of the post-Brexit settlement for Northern Ireland.
Truss tweeted on Dec. 21, after her first phone call with Sefcovic, that the “U.K. government position was unchanged.”
Sefcovic said recently that the foundation of the entire deal between the U.K. and EU would be jeopardized if Article 16 was used.
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