UK govt criticise Macron’s claim NI talks are a matter of ‘war and peace’

Downing Street has emphasised the importance of using “measured and appropriate language” regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol after French President Emmanuel Macron implied current negotiations over the deal amounted to a matter of “war and peace”.

Macron allegedly told the European Committee of the Regions that the talks were “ a question of war and peace for Ireland. So we should avoid any temptation to be less than serious.”

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson told lobby journalist this afternoon that: “When it comes to the protocol it is vital that we use measured and appropriate language given the sensitivities involved.

“It is obviously welcome that Mr Macron recognises that a serious situation needs to be resolved. We urgently need to make progress.”

The Protocol was implemented to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the wake of Brexit by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods. It has been heavily criticised by unionist groups for allegedly undermining the union between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, which remains outside the EU customs union.

The triggering of Article 16 would allow parts of the protocol to be unilaterally suspended. The Article is intended to be a “safeguard” if either the EU or UK believe that Protocol is leading to “serious” practical problems or a diversion of trade — “economic, societal or environmental difficulties”. There is no specific guidance on what qualifies as a “serious” difficulty.