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The claim is alleged to sparked Boris Johnson’s bid to make legal changes to the withdrawal agreement. But French MEP Nathalie Loiseau dismissed the claim Michel Barnier would use food trade as negotiating leverage. BBC Radio 4 presenter Nick Robinson asked her: “There are reports the Government’s bid to make legal changes to the Brexit withdrawal agreement was sparked by what it calls a veiled threat by Michel Barnier to disrupt food exports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
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“The Sun describes it as an incendiary power play that infuriated the UK side prompting ministers to pursue a legal safety net.
“Do you accept that there could be those sorts of problems?”
Speaking on the Radio 4’s Today programme, Ms Loiseau said: “It’s one more example of disinformation and fake news relating to Brexit.
“I do regret that since 2016 you have all this fake news going around creating confusion.”
She went on to say she was “flabbergasted” by the Government’s admission it could break international law over Mr Johnson’s Brexit deal.
Ms Loiseau said: “We’re negotiating the future relationship and we hear that the British Government seems not to believe anymore in a rules-based order.
“This is of course a huge concern.
“And it creates questions and scepticism about how much you can trust your partner in negotiation for the future.
“You don’t break international commitments in specific and limited manners. Either you break them or you abide by them.
“Either you are legal or you are illegal.”
A senior Tory MP has warned Mr Johnson not to breach international law over his Brexit deal, saying it would “go against everything we believe in”.
Chairman of the Commons defence committee Tobias Ellwood told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “As negotiations go down to the wire let’s not lose sight of who we are and what we stand for.
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“This is about the rule of law and our resolve and commitment to uphold it.
“To unilaterally ignore any treaty in its obligations which we’ve signed and submitted to the United Nations would actually go against everything we believe in.”
But Matt Hancock said breaking international law by overriding the Withdrawal Agreement is necessary to preserve peace in Northern Ireland if a trade deal with the EU is not brokered.
The Health Secretary told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The decision we’ve made is to put the peace process first, first and foremost as our absolute top international obligation.
“We are also absolutely clear about if we don’t manage to achieve that (a deal), and I really hope that the Europeans will make the progress necessary in order to deliver it – it’s straightforward and available in my view – if not we absolutely have to choose and to govern is to choose and I choose peace in Northern Ireland.”
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