World EU warns UK against 'unilateral action' on N.Ireland trade
Paul Givan to become Northern Ireland's new leader
LONDON (AP) — Lawmaker Paul Givan is to become the new first minister of Northern Ireland, replacing Arlene Foster, who had been in post since 2015 and through the Brexit dramas of the past few years. The recently elected leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, Edwin Poots, revealed Givan's appointment while unveiling his team in Belfast on Tuesday. The new ministers, including the 39-year-old Givan, a former communities minister, will take up their posts on Monday.“There is a huge responsibility that comes with this position, particularly in serving the people of Northern Ireland," he said.
The European Union on Wednesday threatened the UK with retaliatory action if it refuses to implement post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland, after talks to solve the simmering row broke up without agreement.
Visiting European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said Brussels' patience with London was "wearing thin" over its failure to enforce checks on goods heading to the province from mainland Britain.
Paul Givan Elected as North Ireland's New Leader, First Change Since 2015
Paul Givan will be Northern Ireland's new first minister, replacing Arlene Foster after she resigned from the position in April. Democratic Unionist Party leader Edwin Poots announced the appointment on Tuesday.Edwin Poots, the Democratic Unionist Party's (DUP) newly elected leader, affirmed Givan's selection on Tuesday, the Associated Press reported. The 39-year old Givan and Poots' other appointed ministers will begin work in their new positions on Monday.
"Today I can say we are at a crossroads in our relationship with the UK. Trust, which should be at the heart of all relationships, needs to be restored," he told a news conference in London.
There were "numerous and fundamental gaps" in Britain's compliance with the agreement, he added.
"If the UK were to take further unilateral action in the coming weeks, we will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely."
Asked what form that might take, he said it could include legal action, arbitration or other retaliatory measures, including targeted tariffs, which has prompted talk of a UK-EU "sausage war" on the UK side of the Channel.
UK, EU seek to avert 'sausage war' in post-Brexit talks
LONDON (AP) — The U.K. is calling on the European Union to show pragmatism and “common sense,” as the two sides meet to resolve differences over the implementation of their post-Brexit trade deal in Northern Ireland. Britain’s chief official in the talks, David Frost, made the comment after his European Union counterpart said the bloc was ready to act “firmly and resolutely” if the U.K. failed to honor its commitments under the agreement. Frost and EU chief negotiator Maros Sefcovic are meeting Wednesday in London amid rising tensions in Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that shares a land border with the EU.
But he insisted: "We don't want this to happen... It's not too late. Let's correct the path."
A senior UK official close to the talks also stressed that "nobody wants to get into a trade war or anything close to it," and denied the UK had breached the agreement, saying it had been "designed to give quite wide margins to respond to events."
- 'Frank and honest' -
London and Brussels signed a last-gasp trade deal in December, nearly four years after its landmark Brexit vote and just weeks before Britain left the European single market and customs union.
The two sides negotiated a separate deal for Northern Ireland, which has the UK's only land border with the EU, to prevent unchecked goods entering the single market.
But the port checks on deliveries heading into Northern Ireland from mainland Great Britain -- England, Scotland and Wales -- have caused consternation in unionist communities, which maintain this changes their place in the wider UK.
U.K. Asks EU to Use 'Common Sense,' Cease Threats of Legal Action in Trade Dispute
The U.K. and EU's inability to come to an agreement on policies has led to threats of legal action as tensions rise in Northern Ireland.David Frost, Britain's chief official in the talks, called for a resolution with the EU amid rising tensions in Northern Ireland. New regulations and border checks at the U.K.-EU border have caused some product shortages.
Checks had to be suspended earlier this year because of threats to port staff, and the protocol was blamed for the worst violence in years in the British-run province.
An increase in paperwork for GB goods heading to Northern Ireland has caused delays, and in some instances shortages in shops.
The UK has also extended the grace period for checks on British meat products heading to Northern Ireland, including sausages, until the end of this month.
But the government said having to do so was "nonsense". Prime Minister Boris Johnson told parliament he wanted to protect the country's territorial and economic integrity.
"What we are doing is prioritising the right and ability of the people of Northern Ireland to have access, as they should, freely and uninterruptedly, to goods and services from the whole of the UK," he added.
Frost for his part characterised the three-and-a-half hours of discussions as "frank and honest", but said dialogue had not broken down and more meetings were planned.
But he called for the EU to be more flexible to address the issue in Northern Ireland pragmatically, given the province's fragile peace.
Joe Biden Could Publicly Rebuke Britain at G7 Summit Over Ireland Tensions
The president instructed a U.S. diplomat to formally chastise the U.K. in a meeting earlier this week.The U.S. Charge d'Affaires Yael Lempert told U.K. minister Lord Frost that the Biden administration was "increasingly concerned" about the customs checks stand-off, The Times reported Thursday.
"What we really now need to do is very urgently find some solutions which support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, support the peace process in Northern Ireland, and allow things to return to normal," he told reporters.
- Under threat -
The EU has already launched legal proceedings against the UK after it delayed custom controls on some goods arriving in Northern Ireland from mainland Britain, and has indicated it has US support if it chooses to act again.
The tailored arrangements are designed to sustain Northern Ireland's peace, and prevent a "hard" border with EU-member Ireland, after three decades of violence over British rule largely ended with the 1998 peace deal.
Discontent with the protocol has already played a part in the resignation of Northern Ireland's First Minister Arlene Foster, the nomination of a more hardline unionist as her successor -- and promises of a tougher line.
Billy Hutchinson, from the Progressive Unionist Party, told UK lawmakers earlier on Wednesday the strength of feeling could not be overstated.
"Loyalism feels threatened at the moment," he said.
The protocol "has raised more issues and concerns than it has settled anything", he added.
But Sefcovic insisted "we cannot renegotiate" the document, adding "the core of the protocol" could not be undone.
UK-EU sausage row goes from bad to wurst .
UK anger with Europe sizzled on Sunday after a sausage-themed dispute between the British and French leaders over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. Brussels is equally angered at London's refusal to implement checks on goods heading into Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales. Talks broke down earlier this week, and the European Union is threatening retaliation if Britain unilaterally extends a grace period for trade in chilled meat, including sausages, next month Brussels is equally angered at London's refusal to implement checks on goods heading into Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales.