Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis has slammed the EU’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol as “not acceptable” ahead of alleged plans to suspend parts of the deal.

Speaking with Sky News the minister explained: “We have always said that we hold nothing off the table, we keep everything on the table to make sure that we can do what we need to do to ensure the people in Northern Ireland can have the same rights and access to goods as anybody else anywhere in the United Kingdom.

“At the moment the EU are requiring these checks to be put onto goods that are not going into the EU.

“We absolutely respect and always will the need for checks for products that are moving into the EU but they are doing it for products at the moment, and they want to go further with products that are not moving into the EU. That just doesn’t work, it is not acceptable, we have challenges already.”

He also confirmed that the foreign secretary would today formally announce the government’s plans regarding the post-Brexit deal.

Lewis said that while the government preferred to negotiate with the EU, the UK was open to taking its own action should the trade bloc not engage with its requests.

“What we have always said is that we will not take anything off the table. We will do what we need to do to ensure that products can move to Northern Ireland in the way they should be able to move to Northern Ireland from Great Britain as part of the United Kingdom internal market, something the protocol itself says it will respect but at the moment it is not working properly.

“We would like to do that by agreement with the EU but as I say, we reserve the right to do what we need to do to do the right thing for the people of Northern Ireland and the wider United Kingdom,” he went on.

The president of Sinn Féin has slammed Boris Johnson for using “obstructionist” tactics following talks in Belfast yesterday afternoon.

The Irish nationalist party, who were voted the largest single party in Northern Ireland’s Assembly elections earlier this month, are in favour of maintaining the current post-Brexit deal.

Meanwhile, the second-largest party, the DUP, are refusing to nominate deputy minsters until “decisive action” is taken on the Protocol, which they say undermines the region’s place within the UK.

Under NI power-sharing agreements, an Executive cannot be formed unless both largest parties-one Irish nationalist and one unionist- nominate ministers.

Labour’s shadow work and pensions secretary Jonathan Ashworth, has reiterated the party’s warnings against a trade war with the EU- something that has been threatened should the UK take unilateral action on the Protocol.

He told Sky News: “I would be cautious about engaging in a trade war with our trading partners,” but admitted that “clearly the protocol needs to be improved.”

“If you are a sandwich manufacturer in Leicester… there is some bureaucracy if you want to send your sandwiches over to Northern Ireland. So obviously these things need to be looked at but we have to proceed cautiously and delicately. We don’t want a trade war with our trading partners,” he went on.