Bangers and clash! EU is set to launch a sausage war with UK over Northern Ireland Protocol row

  • VP said Brussels would react ‘swiftly and resolutely’ if UK extends grace period 
  • Chilled meats produced in mainland Britain can be sent there in grace period 
  • UK extended grace periods on supermarket goods and parcels earlier this year
  • EU launched legal action and accused Britain of violating international law

The EU will start a trade war with Britain if Boris Johnson overrides the Brexit treaty so Northern Irish shops can keep selling British sausages, a vice-president of the European Commission has warned.

Maros Sefcovic said Brussels would react ‘swiftly and resolutely’ if Britain chose to extend the grace period in the Northern Ireland Protocol, which expires at the end of this month.

Under the grace period, chilled meats produced in mainland Britain can be sent there. But it has been reported that ministers are now considering another unilateral extension for the produce as a last resort. 

Maros Sefcovic (pictured) said Brussels would react ‘swiftly and resolutely’ if Britain chose to extend the grace period in the Northern Ireland Protocol, which expires at the end of this month

Earlier this year Britain extended the grace periods on supermarket goods and parcels.

In March the EU hit back, launching legal action and accusing Britain of violating international law.

Mr Sefcovic wrote in the Daily Telegraph that if the UK took further unilateral action the EU ‘will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations’.

Mr Sefcovic said the current Northern Ireland Protocol was the ‘best solution’ to ‘the type of Brexit that the current UK Government chose’. He added: ‘No one knows it better than Lord Frost himself, then the UK’s chief Brexit negotiator.’

Earlier this year Britain extended the grace periods on supermarket goods and parcels

Last night sources told the Telegraph there was ‘no world’ in which the Government would accept a situation that meant British sausages could no longer be imported and sold in Northern Ireland.

One UK official said: ‘It is a difficult situation. You look at the current situation in Northern Ireland, in particular with the political calendar, it is coming up to ‘marching season’.

‘It is not exactly coming at a good time to suddenly – at the start of July – happen and people can’t get supplies of chilled meat from Britain.’ 

The warning comes amid reports that US President Joe Biden will use this week’s G7 summit to impress upon Mr Johnson the importance that he attaches to maintaining the protocol.

Ahead of the gathering in Cornwall, Mr Johnson also discussed the issue in a telephone call on Monday with French President Emmanuel Macron.

Downing Street said that the Prime Minister stressed that ‘both the UK and the EU have a responsibility to find solutions to address the issues with the protocol’.

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