Johnson threatens Taoiseach he will trigger Article 16 if Brexit row not solved

In the most direct threat yet from Downing Street, Mr Johnson left Mr Martin in no doubt as to his willingness to press the pause button on the protocol
Johnson threatens Taoiseach he will trigger Article 16 if Brexit row not solved

Prime minister Boris Johnson spoke this afternoon by telephone with Micheál Martin.

Unless a solution to the Northern Ireland Brexit row can be found soon, then Britain will have to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, prime minister Boris Johnson has told Taoiseach Micheál Martin.

The two leaders spoke this afternoon by telephone and Mr Johnson and Mr Martin said the preferred outcome is one where a solution can be found.

However, in the most direct threat yet from Downing Street, Mr Johnson left Mr Martin in no doubt as to his willingness to press the pause button on the protocol.

“The prime minister and the Taoiseach agreed that a negotiated outcome was the preferred outcome and to work hard to achieve it," a Downing Street spokesman said.

"The prime minister was clear, however, that if talks were not able to deliver a rebalanced and sustainable outcome soon, the Government would be left with no choice but to use the safeguard measures under Article 16. 

"This was a perfectly legitimate provision in the protocol that had been agreed by all parties.” 

The two leaders agreed on the vital importance of the British-Ireland relationship in finding solutions and in providing long-term stability in Northern Ireland. They agreed to keep in close contact.

Mr Johnson reportedly raised his ongoing concern about the substantial distance between Britain and EU positions when it comes to resolving the issues with the Northern Ireland protocol. 

The protocol was rightly keeping North-South trade open but its implementation was damaging the much larger East-West dimension, he said.

We could not allow a situation to develop in which the government was unable to provide economic support to Northern Ireland in the same way it could in the rest of the UK. 

"Ultimately Northern Ireland’s place in the UK internal market was crucial to its long-term prosperity and could not be damaged,” he added.

“The implementation of the protocol was now colliding with economic and political realities and significant change was necessary. 

"The Court of Justice was part of this fundamental imbalance because disputes were decided in the court of one party,” Mr Martin was told.

Mr Martin confirmed the conversation at a meeting of his parliamentary party. 

His spokesman said the discussion from the British side was along the lines of what the British Command Paper, published in the summer, contained.

The Taoiseach began by congratulating the prime minister on the success of the COP26 summit.

Mr Johnson thanked Ireland for its support and the leaders agreed that the summit marked a step change in tackling climate change around the world. 

The leaders also discussed their countries’ respective fights against Covid-19.

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