Lewis accuses Sefcovic of “willfully distorting” British position on protocol

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis accused European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic of “deliberately twisting” Britain’s demands for the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Mr Lewis was responding to a Daily Telegraph article in which Mr Sefcovic said he was increasingly concerned that Britain was ready to take on the European Union.

“None of the business representatives I met in Northern Ireland… asked me to remove the protocol. On the contrary, they asked me to solve the practical problems they encounter in its implementation, ”wrote Mr. Sefcovic.

“I am increasingly concerned that the British government will refuse to go down this path and go down the road of confrontation.”

Mr Lewis said Britain was not trying to get rid of the protocol but was looking for changes that would make it more acceptable to the people of Northern Ireland.

“The British government does not claim to abandon the protocol and never has. This is a deliberate distortion of the position described in our command document in July, ”he said.

“The UK has ultimate responsibility for peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland. What we are looking for is to make changes with the sole aim of finding more lasting arrangements that work best for the people of Northern Ireland. “

British and European Union negotiators meet in Brussels for a second week of talks on the EU’s offer to eliminate most checks and procedures for goods in transit from Britain to Ireland from North.

But Brexit Minister David Frost warned Britain would unilaterally suspend parts of the protocol if the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in policing is not removed.

At the Cop26 climate summit in Glasgow on Monday, the Taoiseach spoke briefly with President Joe Biden, who reaffirmed US support for the peace process and the Belfast accord.

Speaking to reporters, the Taoiseach welcomed Mr Sefcovic’s article on the protocol and said the EU’s proposals were a good basis for a deal.

“I think Europe has come a long way in respecting the operational details of the protocol. They listened to the people on the ground and the various industrial sectors and people from community groups.

“Huge progress has been made and I think the UK government should respond accordingly. It is in the best interest of the Good Friday agreement, it is in the best interest of the Northern Irish who will have access to the single European market as well as, of course, to the British market, ”he said. declared.

Mr Martin urged Britain to act constructively in its dispute with France over licenses for French vessels to fish in the coastal waters off Jersey and Guernsey.

The Taoiseach said Ireland stands in solidarity with France, which has threatened to block British fishing boats in its ports and to step up checks on British freight trucks.

“We believe that the European Union and the UK government need to engage constructively on a whole range of issues, including fisheries. And it is to be feared that the British government has not engaged constructively on a number of issues, ”he said.

“But I think there are discussions going on between the UK government and the French government and that they might be able to resolve this issue. But we would still like, given our own situation, to have this resolved regardless of protocol. “

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