Brussels capitulating on Brexit and says it is ready to be flexible

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The EU said it was ready to do a deal with Britain over a customs row this afternoon. Ireland’s premier Micheal Martin opened the door to a compromise agreement between the UK and the bloc as he accused the row of being a distraction. He warned that both Britain and the EU needed to find a breakthrough in negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol in order to focus on working together on important issues such as Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Mr Martin said he hoped Prime Minister Rishi Sunak would agree with his predecessor Liz Truss that “negotiation is the preferred option in terms of resolving the issues around the protocol”.

He said: “I’m in no doubt that Europe stands ready to be flexible in terms of all matters pertaining to the Protocol and also in the context of the geopolitical difficulties that we’re facing across Europe.

“With the first war on the continent of Europe since World War Two, the need for like-minded countries, United Kingdom, European Union, the United States, Canada and Japan and so forth to be together in dealing with that issue, that really puts the issue of the protocol in context and the necessity to get it resolved.”

Terms of the Northern Ireland Protocol settled on as part of the 2019 Brexit Withdrawal Agreement allow for bureaucratic customs checks to take place on goods crossing from Britain to Northern Ireland.

The EU insists the checks are required in order to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland and to also protect the integrity of the bloc’s single market.

However, Unionists have criticised the Protocol for undermining Northern Ireland’s place within the UK.

Talks on the Protocol have been taking place since last October with little hope of progress.

However, in recent weeks the EU has suggested it is ready to climbdown on its intransigence over the mechanism.

Earlier this month Ireland’s deputy prime minister Leo Varadkar admitted the Protocol was “a little too strict” and needed reform to help make it sustainable in the long run.

He said: “One thing that I would concede is that perhaps the protocol as it was originally designed was a little too strict.

“The protocol is not being fully implemented and yet it is still working.

“I think that demonstrates that there is some room for further flexibility, for changes that hopefully will make it acceptable to all sides.”

More to follow…

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