EU wants UK capitulation Brexiteer calls Sefcovics bluff

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Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president and Brexit negotiator, signalled a deal on the Northern Ireland Protocol with the UK Government could be reached “within weeks” on Monday. Echoing his comments, made in Westminster during a meeting of British and European parliamentarians, Ireland Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Tuesday that the EU is willing to be “generous” with the UK Government in order to reach a deal. 

But Brexiteer Ben Habib called on the EU’s bluff as he warned Mr Sefcovic will only look to pursue Brussels’ plan to “capitulate” Britain back into its shackles. 

Speaking to Express.co.uk, the former Brexit Party MEP said: “Maros Sefcovic recently said with political will the differences between the EU and the UK over the Protocol could be addressed. He means the opposite. He hopes for the customary absence of political will at Westminster and a British capitulation. He is certain to get what he wants.”

Lashing out against Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, he added: “There is no hope of Sunak standing up for the country. Our PM is a bean counter. He has no affinity for the integrity of the United Kingdom or its sovereignty. He claims to be a Brexiteer but his actions indicate otherwise. He will be prepared either to ditch Northern Ireland or align the entire UK with the EU to mask the effects of the Protocol.

“What he fails to appreciate is the simmering resentment he and his predecessors have caused. People are sick of the broken promises and betrayal by Westminster. They want Brexit properly delivered.

“They want Northern Ireland back in the UK. They want EU laws off our statute books. They want our government to control our laws, our borders, our cash and our fish. And they rightly want an energy independent country – not one importing LNG from the US at vast cost. Sunak is incapable of delivering any of this.

“What this Conservative government has delivered is a fractured country, a broken economy and a promise of much more pain in the future. As rare as it is, this latter promise I am sure they will keep.

“A UK sell out will set in stone the perpetual collapse of Stormont and the end of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”

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Discussing EU proposals to reduce checks between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, Mr Sefcovic said on Monday: “Is it too much to do this? Can we not find pragmatic, technical solutions to make this thing work?

“I believe it could be done, if there is political will, I’m sure that we can sort it out really within a couple of weeks because really both sides of our negotiating teams we know these topics from all angles.”

Earlier, Mr Sefcovic told parliamentarians that he did not believe the EU and the UK were “worlds apart” on the protocol, as he warned that unilateral action by the Government would have “serious” consequences.

It comes as Rishi Sunak and Ursula von der Leyen agreed to “work together” to end the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, when they met for the first time at Cop27 in Egypt.

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In Egypt, the new prime minister met the European Commission president as both attended the Cop27 climate conference on Monday, with Mr Sunak stressing the need to “find solutions” to the “very real problems” caused by the post-Brexit arrangements in the region.

Mr Sunak inherits from his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson the problem of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is vocally opposed by unionists who claim it cuts off the region from the rest of the UK.

The post-Brexit solution, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, is cited as the Democratic Unionist Party’s main reason for refusing to return to powersharing.

The instability in Northern Ireland has raised concerns in Dublin, Brussels and Washington, and the row between the UK and the EU shows few signs of coming to a rapid conclusion, despite indications of a more positive tone from the British side in recent weeks.

Ms von der Leyen called it a “good first meeting”.

“We face many common challenges, from tackling climate change and the energy transition to Russia’s war against Ukraine,” she tweeted.

She said she looked forward to “constructive co-operation” between the two blocs.

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