A FRESH Brexit dust-up with the EU risks detonating a full-blown trade war and sending food prices soaring.
Britain and Brussels are at loggerheads over the status of Northern Ireland and checks on goods flowing into the country.
Liz Truss is demanding the frustrating red tape harming firms is ripped up – but EU chiefs are refusing to budge.
Now the Foreign Secretary is on the brink of pressing the nuclear button by unilaterally scrapping the hated Northern Ireland Protocol.
EU leaders have warned they could respond by tearing up the whole Brexit deal and slap harsh tariffs on goods.
Erecting trade barriers would almost certainly hike the prices of products from the continent in British shops.
Ms Truss is phoning her Brussels counterpart Maros Sefcovic tomorrow for a last-ditch effort to find a solution.
So far the two sides have failed to thrash out an agreement, with Ms Truss yesterday rejecting the EU’s latest offer.
She said last night: “The current EU proposals fail to properly address the real issues affecting Northern Ireland and in some cases would take us backward.
“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.
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“The answer cannot be more checks, paperwork and disruption. Our preference has always been for a negotiated solution but will not shy away from taking action to stabilise the situation in Northern Ireland if solutions cannot be found.”
Ms Truss claims the latest EU proposals tabled last October would slam red tape on Lincolnshire sausages.
She also said that food from outside the EU like Thai green curry ready meals and New Zealand lamb would be blocked from British shops.
EXPLAINER: Why has a fresh Brexit row exploded with the EU?
A FRESH Brexit row has exploded with the EU – here’s everything you need to know
WHAT IS THE ROW ABOUT?
Britain is not happy with the amount of EU red tape slapped on firms selling into Northern Ireland and wants to scrap all checks. Brussels has offered to bin some paperwork but is still insisting on strict rules.
HOW DID IT ALL START?
After Brexit, Northern Ireland essentially remained part of the EU’s frictionless trading bloc to avoid creating a hard border with the Republic and flaring fresh nationalist violence in the province. But the result is that checks on goods are now needed between Britain and Northern Ireland – known as the Northern Ireland Protocol.
WHY IS THIS A PROBLEM?
As well as creating nuisance red tape for British firms just wanting to move goods into Northern Ireland, Ulster’s unionists are furious that it essentially cuts them apart from the UK. They are now refusing to join the devolved administration, threatening to leave Northern Ireland without a government.
WHAT ARE THE STICKING POINTS?
Britain and the EU have been haggling over the arrangements for months now but have reached a stalemate. Brussels offered to scrap 80 per cent of food checks and half of all customs checks. But Liz Truss says there are far too many strings attached – saying it would require the UK to play by the EU’s stringent rulebook.
WHAT HAPPENS NOW?
Ms Truss is calling her counterpart Maros Sefcovic on Thursday for last-ditch talks to hammer out a solution. If none is found, Britain could wield its sovereignty and unilaterally scrap the Northern Ireland Protocol. The EU would likely hit back by suspending the entire Brexit deal and launch an all-out trade war with the UK.
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