UK trade war against EU begins as Irish MEPs ‘cosy up’ to Brussels

MEPs agreed to impose restrictions on Britain if it failed to meet its obligations, dubbed the “first shot fired” in a trade war between London and Brussels over Brexit terms.

Irish MEP Sean Kelly announced the new law on Twitter: “Today, we signed into law a regulation empowering the @EU_Commission to impose trade restrictions should the UK breach its obligations under post-Brexit trading agreements. With EU-UK relations in a better place, this is a mechanism that I hope we never have to use.”

Reacting to the blow, former Brexit Party MEP Martin Daubney said: “The first shot in an EU-UK trade war has been fired, as Irish MEPs cosy up to Brussels & threaten sanctions/tariffs against the UK.

“The EU always wanted to punish us on the way out, to set an example to other member states. And these Irish politicians are their accomplices.”

It comes as MPs prepare to vote for the first time next week on Rishi Sunak’s new deal with the EU on post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Commons Leader Penny Mordaunt said the House would be asked on Wednesday to approve regulations to implement the Windsor Framework’s Stormont brake.

Downing Street called the provision, which could give the UK a veto over the implementation of new EU rules in Northern Ireland, the “most significant part” of the agreement.

“We believe this meets the Prime Minister’s commitment to have a vote on the new arrangements focused on an issue that is at the heart of the framework,” said the Prime Minister’s official spokesman.

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The statutory instrument (SI) to implement the brake mechanism is expected to pass easily, as Labour has stated that they will support the deal in Parliament.

However, it will not necessarily result in the restoration of Stormont’s powersharing executive, which has been suspended since the DUP, the assembly’s largest unionist party, walked out in protest of the way the Northern Ireland Protocol was being implemented.

While DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson acknowledges that the framework is an improvement over the protocol, which is part of Boris Johnson’s Brexit Withdrawal Agreement with the EU, he claims “fundamental problems” remain.

Mr Sunak could also face a backbench rebellion by Tory hardliners in the European Research Group (ERG) who are studying the fine print of the framework before deciding whether to back it.

Downing Street insists it deals with the main difficulties with the protocol, allowing the free flow of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland without the need for routine customs checks so long as they are not destined for the Republic.