Brexit POLL: Should Boris rip up EU deal to ensure meat can be delivered within UK?

Brexit: UK stance 'won't ease EU standoff' says expert

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The UK is currently embroiled in intense negotiations over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. A six-month grace period on borderless trade is due to end this month, which will mean chilled meat cannot be exported to mainland Europe or even Northern Ireland from the UK under the current Brexit rules. The EU fears that goods from Northern Ireland may enter the single market and are demanding the meat must go through the bloc’s stringent checks.

EU food safety rules mean that only frozen meat can be imported into its single market.

Once the grace period ends next month, UK goods would be subject to those food safety rules.

However, so far the UK has refused to rule out waiving the checks on British-made sausages and meats – without EU approval.

But such a move could cause tensions between the bloc to boil over, as Britain has already angered Brussels by unilaterally extending grace periods in the Protocol on supermarket goods and parcels.

The current dispute over chilled meats has been dubbed the “sausage war”, with EU Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic making it clear the bloc would act “swiftly, firmly and resolutely” if the UK tried to backtrack on agreements made under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

He has even raised the prospect of a trade war, threatening to hike tariffs and quotas on British exports if the UK failed to properly enact the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Former French European minister and MEP Nathalie Loiseau also issued a warning to the UK, and said: “We are warning (that) you signed an agreement, you have to implement it.

“Otherwise, there are measures that we can take legally that will protect our single market.”

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But Brexit Minister David Frost has said threats are not going to work.

He said: “Further threats of legal action and trade retaliation from the EU won’t make life any easier for the shopper in Strabane who can’t buy their favourite product.

“Nor will it benefit the small business in Ballymena struggling to source produce from their supplier in Birmingham.”

The UK Government has refused to rule out taking unilateral action to ensure British chilled meats continue to go to Northern Ireland.

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Mr Johnson’s official spokesman said: “We keep all options on the table.”

Similarly, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said movement needed to come from the EU, who he accused of taking a “purist” approach.

He said: “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.”

Environment Secretary George Eustice has also described the threat of an “outright ban” on chicken nuggets and sausages being sent from Great Britain to Northern Ireland as “bonkers”.

He said: “I suspect it links to some kind of perception that they can’t really trust any country other than an EU country to make sausages.

“I think that’s a nonsense. I think we’ve got a very good sausage industry in this country, we’ve got the highest standards of food hygiene in the world.”

Mr Eustice added: “There’s no problem with our sausages or indeed our chicken nuggets.”

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