British Prime Minister Boris Johnson got into a diplomatic row with one of the United Kingdom’s closest allies after claiming that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte was seeking to “mediate” between Brussels and London over post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
Speaking to reporters on a plane to New York for the UN General Assembly, the British prime minister indicated that the Dutch government is looking to mediate between the European Commission and London over the differences that have arisen in recent months over Northern Ireland.
“I spoke with Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands last night, who wanted to come and see if he could mediate on this issue and I said, you know, we really want to make progress,” Johnson said.
“We are seeking a solution, but it must be a solution that allows the free movement of goods between all parts of our country,” he added.
Dutch diplomatic sources told The Guardian newspaper that they were surprised by the prime minister’s comments, insisting that Rutte specifically urged Johnson to be pragmatic in his dealings with the European Commission.
Dutch sources dismissed any suggestion that the commission was sidelined through bilateral discussions or that there was a division among the 27 member states on the issue.
A Dutch diplomatic source said of last week’s meeting between the two leaders: “The prime minister called [الهولندي] His counterpart, Boris Johnson, called for constructive and pragmatic engagement with the Commission. Both the UK and the EU share a responsibility to make the protocol as negotiated and ratified by both sides for the benefit of the people of Northern Ireland.”
The latest spat comes at a difficult time for relations between the United Kingdom, the European Union and the 27 member states of the bloc.
In recent days, the French government has also expressed outrage over the UK’s involvement in the “Ocos” partnership with Australia and the United States, which has cost France a €90 billion submarine contract. One French minister described Britain as a “vassal” of America.
However, relations are at risk of deteriorating further in the coming months as the British prime minister has repeatedly warned that the UK will not hesitate to trigger Article 16 – the override mechanism that would suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is designed to avoid the border on the island of Ireland.
Johnson demanded that the terms of the protocol be renegotiated, which would effectively leave Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market and establish a customs border within the United Kingdom south of the Irish Sea.
The EU has rejected any such negotiations, but is expected to provide some solutions to cumbersome checks and other paperwork in the first two weeks of October. Lord Frost, the minister responsible for Brexit issues, warned that the changes would not be enough.
Asked on the plane to New York if he intended to invoke Article 16, Johnson suggested he wanted a workable solution, but added that “the current situation cannot go on forever.”
The news from the source