Boris goes nuclear: Article 16 committee drawn up as UK loses patience with EU

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Amid the tension over Northern Ireland and fishing rights in Jersey, the Prime Minister has convened a committee to discuss the consequences of triggering Article 16. The committee has benen transformed from the XO Cabinet to the GB(O) committee or Global Britain (O) inside Whitehall. Amid the fallout with France, UK officials have now reopened discussions over triggering the instrument. 

According to Sky News, the matter has already been discussed on the committee. 

It is thought Article 16 could be used as early as the end of next month following COP26. 

Although EU officials met with counterparts to discuss matters this week, No10 has set the end of next month as the deadline to resolve matters surrounding Northern Ireland. 

Lord Frost has already begun communicating with MPs in order to gather support to trigger Artcile 16. 

One MP insisted Lord Frost claimed the Government is confident in how it is dealign with the EU. 

The MP said: “The message was: trust us. He was saying please keep your head down on the issue and don’t interfere, arguing they did Brexit so they know what they’re doing.

“He pointed out that the Irish are in a difficult position, as are the French and the Germans don’t have a government.”

While the UK Government is not certain of triggering Article 16, the MP claimed the party should be prepared if it does. 

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Article 16 allows either side to unilaterally suspend parts of the agreement if the deal has caused undue harm to trade. 

UK officials have repeatedly warned they will trigger the intrument due to the issues to trade in Northern Ireland. 

As a result of the Northern Ireland protocol, the province remains in the EU’s single market and follows many of its customs regulations. 

In order to appease the UK, the EU put forward a raft of proposals to eliminate the checks on good such as British sausages. 

Under the proposal, goods such as sausages will be classed as national heritage produce and would avoid customs checks to enter Northern Ireland from, Great Britain. 

Speaking to the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee this week, Lord Frost claimed the proposal did not go far enough. 

He also claimed the proposal showed the EU could change laws if necessar, despite its previous stance. 

He said: “The problem with them is that they don’t go far enough.

“I’m not sure they would quite deliver the kind of ambitious freeing-up of trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland that we want to see, but what we’re trying to test is whether they could find the basis to go further than what they have put on the table.

“That’s the kind of discussions we have been having and it has been quite constructive so far, but the gaps between us remain significant, and there is a lot of working through to go.”

This is a breaking story, more to follow…

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