Brexit impasse could break with Johnson resignation as EU open to talks with successor

Nigel Farage criticises Keir Starmer on Brexit comments

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Despite striking a withdrawal agreement in December 2020, the UK and the European Union have continued to be at loggerheads over the thorny issue of Brexit. London has taken particular issue with aspects of the Northern Ireland protocol, claiming it represents a threat to the Union and lamenting the need for checks on goods to and from Great Britain into the smaller nation. But economist Jonathan Portes suggested a potential resignation of Boris Johnson could act as a turning point in the relations between the UK and the EU, helping “reset” the ongoing row.

Asked whether Mr Johnson’s departure could lead the UK into rejoining the bloc, Prof Portes said: “I don’t think there’s any realistic prospect of the UK rejoining or being in a position to rejoin the EU in a near future, that’s not what’s on the agenda.

“It would be an opportunity to reset relations with the EU.

“The EU has decided, as indeed has the vast majority of the British population, that a Boris Johnson promise isn’t worth anything, that he’s prepared to sign a deal and claim it’s a great deal, and then walk away from it.

“Anyone from the EU’s point of view would be, regardless of their previous political view or views on Brexit, would be at least someone they can do business with.”

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He continued: ” It would be a chance to put the relationship on a more constructive footing.

“But that doesn’t mean Brexit is going to be reversed – that is a pipe dream of a few Remainers who are a long way from power and some Brexiteers who want to manufacture specters that don’t exist.”

Foreign Secretary will be tabling legislation at Westminster on Monday that will give ministers powers to scrap parts of the protocol.

The protocol was jointly agreed as part of the Brexit Agreement to keep the Irish land border free-flowing.

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The arrangements established the need for regulatory checks and customs declarations on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Unionists in Northern Ireland have been strongly opposing to the protocol, claiming it has undermined the region’s place within the United Kingdom.

The new legislation will see the Government move without the consent of the European Union to change the terms of the international treaty in a bid to reduce the checks on the movement of goods across the Irish Sea.

Brussels made clear that such a step could prompt retaliatory action from the bloc as they warned it would represent a breach of international law.

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DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said there is a “unity of purpose within unionism in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol”.

Sinn Fein vice president Michelle O’Neill warned the UK Government against unilateral moves to override the protocol during an address to party members in Belfast.

“Boris Johnson knows that to gamble the protocol is to breach international law and to jeopardise the British Government’s agreement with the EU on their withdrawal and future trading relationship, with colossal political and economic impact,” she said.

“The threat of unilateral action by the Tories to legislate and breach international law serves nobody’s interests, anywhere, at any time.”

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