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UK presses on with changes to Brexit deal despite EU opposition

06/26/2022 | 05:32pm EDT
FILE PHOTO: The border between Northern Ireland and Ireland

LONDON (Reuters) - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's government will press ahead on Monday with legislation to scrap rules on post-Brexit trade with Northern Ireland, setting up further clashes with the European Union.

The legislation, which would unilaterally replace parts of the post-Brexit deal that was agreed in 2020 by Britain and the EU, is due to be sent back to parliament's lower house for a so-called second reading.

Foreign minister Liz Truss said London's priority was to protect a 1998 peace deal that Ireland, the United States and other countries have said could be put at risk by replacing parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

"This legislation will fix the problems the Protocol has created, ensuring that goods can flow freely within the UK, while avoiding a hard border and safeguarding the EU Single Market," Truss said in a statement on Sunday.

"A negotiated solution has been and remains our preference, but the EU continues to rule out changing the Protocol itself - even though it is patently causing serious problems in Northern Ireland - which therefore means we are obliged to act."

Britain plans to stop some checks on goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the United Kingdom and it is challenging the role played by the EU's court.

The EU's ambassador to Britain said on Sunday that Britain's plans were illegal and unrealistic. 

"It is a treaty that we signed, ratified and even went through a general election in this country," Joao Vale de Almeida told Sky News.

The European Commission has launched legal proceedings against Britain, potentially leading to a trade war.

EU officials say Johnson is trying to regain support among lawmakers in his Conservative Party after he narrowly won a confidence vote earlier this month.

(Writing by William Schomberg. Editing by Jane Merriman)

© Reuters 2022
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