Dublin’s foreign minister Simon Coveney went on the attack amid UK attempts to rewrite the contentious Northern Ireland protocol which governs trading arrangements for the region. Brexit Minister Lord Frost will use a speech in Lisbon on Tuesday to threaten a trade war with Brussels unless it makes changes to the protocol including the oversight role played by the European Court of Justice.
On Wednesday the European Commission will announce plans to scrap checks on some goods — including sausages and chilled meats — between the British mainland and Northern Ireland.
But Brussels has made it clear removing the ECJ’s role is a red line it will not cross. On Monday Mr Coveney questioned Britain’s motives and asked why the UK had signed up to the protocol — which seeks to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland — in the first place.
“If the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in terms of the functioning of the EU single market was an absolute red line for the UK why did they sign up to an agreement that allowed the ECJ to effectively be the final arbiter for the implementation of the protocol in Northern Ireland?
“This is seen across the EU as the same pattern over and over again, the EU tries to solve problems, the UK dismisses them before they are even published and asks for more.
“The British government seems to be shifting the playing field now away from solving those issues. Now opening up this new red line issue of the jurisdiction of the UK. The truth is they know that the EU can’t move on this issue and yet they are still asking for it.”
Lord Frost, who was involved in a Twitter spat with Mr Coveney over the ECJ issue at the weekend, is expected use his Lisbon speech on Tuesday to accuse Brussels of dismissing governance as a “side issue”.