Boris Johnson blasts Emmanuel Macron jibe: Prime Minister is locked in war of words with French leader over ‘sausage war’ as row with EU rumbles on
- PM said he had repeatedly warned EU leaders that the UK was ‘indivisible’ after Macron suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the country
- Mr Macron hit back last night accusing Mr Johnson of launching ‘polemics’
- The row centres on new EU rules that would ban the sale of British sausages and other chilled meats in Northern Ireland
Boris Johnson was locked in a war of words with Emmanuel Macron last night as he pledged to do ‘whatever it takes’ to stop the EU driving a wedge between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
At a G7 summit overshadowed by the so-called ‘sausage war’, the Prime Minister said he had repeatedly warned EU leaders that the UK was ‘indivisible’ after the French president suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the country.
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday described Mr Macron’s comments as ‘offensive’ and said it was time for the president and other EU leaders to show ‘a bit of respect’ to the territorial integrity of the UK.
The French President angered Mr Johnson during a tense standoff yesterday after he suggested Northern Ireland was not a full part of the UK amid an ongoing dispute over post-Brexit trade checks
Mr Macron hit back last night accusing the PM of launching ‘polemics’. At his own press conference at the summit, he urged Mr Johnson to ‘stay very calm’.
And he claimed it was the Brexit deal signed by Mr Johnson that led to the current impasse. The row centres on new EU rules that would ban the sale of British sausages and other chilled meats in Northern Ireland from the end of this month.
Under the terms of the Brexit deal, Northern Ireland remains part of the EU’s single market to prevent the need of a border with Ireland.
But ministers say a ‘purist’ approach by the EU to checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland has made the situation intolerable. The PM is poised to unilaterally extend a ‘grace period’ for chilled meats which is due to expire at the end of this month, despite warnings from the EU that it could spark a trade war.
At a G7 summit overshadowed by the so-called ‘sausage war’, the Prime Minister said he had repeatedly warned EU leaders that the UK was ‘indivisible’ after the French president suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the country
Johnson’s China warning to Nato
NATO must combat the growing challenge posed by China, Boris Johnson will warn today.
Speaking at a Nato summit in Brussels, the Prime Minister will warn that the Cold War alliance must address the rising threat posed by China, as well as maintaining its traditional focus on Russia.
Ministers have been alarmed by the increasing muscularity of China’s diplomacy, including a clampdown on human rights in Hong Kong.
Downing Street said Mr Johnson will use today’s summit to ‘outline the need for Nato to look beyond the Euro-Atlantic to address challenges further afield, including in the Indo-Pacific’. A source said: ‘The West’s neighbourhood is much bigger than it used to be. If you look at trade, what happens in the Indo-Pacific in terms of disruption has direct effects here. Nato has to evolve to address that.’
Mr Johnson said: ‘Nato is not just important to the UK’s security, it is our security. Nato owes it to the billion people we keep safe every day to continually adapt and evolve to meet new challenges.’
US President Joe Biden is expected to restate US support for Nato following years in which Donald Trump threatened to pull out.
A government source told the Mail that the EU’s stance meant there were already likely to be shortages of chilled meat products in Northern Ireland next month, because many supermarkets order their goods four weeks in advance. Mr Johnson has also warned he is ready to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol section of the Brexit deal, which would enable the UK to unilaterally suspend all border checks.
Mr Macron is said to have questioned Northern Ireland’s status during face-to-face talks with the PM at the weekend.
Mr Johnson had asked him: ‘How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?’ Mr Macron responded that it was not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse were part of the same country, prompting the PM to snap back: ‘Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country as well.’
Mr Johnson yesterday said some EU leaders needed to ‘get it in to their heads’ that Britain would never accept measures that would drive a wedge between parts of the country. He added: ‘What I am saying is that we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK.’
Meanwhile Mr Raab told Sky News: ‘We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.’
Mr Macron yesterday said EU leaders had spent ‘thousands of hours’ discussing British sovereignty during the Brexit negotiations and needed no lessons in it.
Asked about the row, he told reporters: ‘Let’s not waste time on polemics…. France has never questioned British sovereignty or British territorial integrity.’
But he said Brexit was ‘the child of this British sovereignty’ – and claimed that the current row stems directly from the deal negotiated by the PM.
Mr Macron said the EU should not be blamed for ‘certain inconsistencies which were clear from the beginning’.
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