Michael Gove has said he is “super cool” with plans to rip up the Northern Ireland protocol.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss is expected to reveal unilateral changes to the Brexit deal next week.
But the EU has warned such a move could risk a trade war, and collapsing the entire agreement.
One of the UK government’s most senior ministers has said he is “super cool” about his colleague’s plan to unilaterally rip up the Northern Ireland protocol, despite it risking a trade war with the EU.
Liz Truss, the foreign secretary, is readying new legislation that will supersede the existing agreement, with unionists angry about the impact border checks are having on trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Asked how angry he was about the move on a scale of one to 10, Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove told LBC: “Minus five. I’m super cool with it. I’m a big, big Liz Truss fan.”
Gove described Prime Minister Boris Johnson as an “expert negotiator,” suggesting this move could be a tactic to force the EU’s hand.
“We’re going to talk to the EU, but nothing is off the table,” he told Sky News, adding that it was important to be “prepared to walk away.”
Truss, who is expected to bring forward legislation as early as next week, said Tuesday that existing proposals from Brussels “fail to properly address the real issues affecting Northern Ireland and in some cases would take us backward.”
She added: “Prices have risen, trade is being badly disrupted, and the people of Northern Ireland are subject to different laws and taxes than those over the Irish Sea, which has left them without an Executive and poses a threat to peace and stability. The answer cannot be more checks, paperwork and disruption.
“Our preference has always been for a negotiated solution but we will not shy away from taking action to stabilize the situation in Northern Ireland if solutions cannot be found.”
The government has been warned that such a move could provoke a trade war with the EU.
In comments reported by the Daily Telegraph, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said: “Our message is quite clear: Don’t touch this … If that agreement would be revoked, then I would think that the whole system will be revoked. I would not see any other solution.”
EU Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said “renegotiation is not an option,” and urged the UK to match Brussels’ “determination and creativity” to come up with solutions to the dispute.
Asked about such warnings, Gove told Sky News: “There are some actors who will say certain things. And that’s fine, I’m not going to criticise them.
“Boris and Liz, they are a negotiating duo in whom I place my trust.”
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