Boris Johnson claims EU leaders don't understand Northern Ireland as Brexit row rages at G7

The Prime Minister’s desire currently is to work within the existing protocol to find radical changes and pragmatic solutions. That is our immediate focus. We keep all options on the table
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Boris Johnson

As tensions over the Brexit deal threatened to eclipse the G7 conference in Cornwall, Boris Johnson argued that EU leaders "misunderstand that the UK is a single country."

The Prime Minister argued with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel, and Ursula von der Leyen over the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which imposes additional restrictions on UK trade.

The French President stated that ties between the United Kingdom and the European Union need to be "reset," and encouraged the British government to "honor their word" on the arrangement reached last year, which imposes checks on some products traveling between the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland.

Following Prime Minister Theresa May's accusation that Brussels was not being "sensible or pragmatic" in its interpretation of the laws, the UK has said it is seeking "radical" revisions. The prohibition on the import of chilled meats, which is set to take effect in three weeks, has gotten a lot of attention.

“I think that the protocol can work if it is sensibly applied but at the moment there is – it’s not just a question of chilled meats or sausages, there are all kinds of impediments being constructed, and we need to sort it out. I think we can sort it out but… it is up to our EU friends and partners to understand that we will do whatever it takes” Mr. Johnson told Sky News.

He added:

“I’ve talked to some of our friends here today, who do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country, a single territory. I just need to get that into their heads.” The Prime Minister told Channel 5 that the EU was being “theologically draconian” and causing “unnecessary barriers to trade”.

Mr Macron, according to a spokeswoman for the French president, called for a "reset" in his bilateral meeting with Mr Johnson, but "strongly emphasised that this re-engagement required the British to honour their word to the Europeans and the framework defined by the Brexit agreements."

The Prime Minister has threatened to invoke article 16 of the protocol, which empowers any party to temporarily suspend its provisions if they are inflicting severe economic or social harm. This might lead to a trade war with Brussels, which might respond with actions of its own.

A No 10 spokesman said:
“The Prime Minister’s desire currently is to work within the existing protocol to find radical changes and pragmatic solutions. That is our immediate focus. We keep all options on the table.”