The United Kingdom has rejected the European Union’s proposals to resolve a standoff over post-Brexit trade rules for Northern Ireland, saying it would not shy away from taking direct action in the latest escalation between the two sides.
Striking a deal that preserved peace in Northern Ireland and protected the EU’s single market without imposing a hard land border between the British province and EU member state Ireland, or a border within the UK, was always the biggest challenge for London as it embarked on its exit from the bloc. It agreed on a protocol which instead created a customs border in the sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, but now says the required bureaucracy is intolerable. London’s Conservative government has been threatening to rip up the protocol for months, raising the risk of a trade war with Europe at a time of soaring inflation and ringing alarm bells across Europe and in Washington.
Brussels offered to ease customs checks in October last year, but British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss on Wednesday said this failed to address the core problem, “and in some cases would take us backward”.