Blog: Boris Johnson told ‘high-risk’ Brexit move could backfire on UK – ‘Come off worse!’ – Daily Express

Both sides are at loggerheads over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland – nearly a year after Britain formally left the European Union. The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost wants to completely overhaul large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol, continuing to insist it is simply not working. But the EU is refusing to cave and “wide-reaching” proposals presented to UK negotiators last month fell well short of their demands.

Boris Johnson and Lord Frost are continuing to warn Article 16 remains “on the table” – suggesting the UK could invoke it with immediate effect.

This mechanism either side to suspend parts of the agreement it deems no longer viable for economic, social or environmental reasons.

However, the EU has been quick to hit back by warning it will retaliate with force if Article 16 is triggered, intensifying fears of a potentially destructive trade war between the two sides.

Political experts fear the UK is employing a “high-risk strategy” by invoking Article 16, warning Brexit Britain will take a much bigger hit from any subsequent trade war that might be launched.

Wyn Grant, a British political scientist and professor of politics at the University of Warwick, told Express.co.uk: “Boris Johnson will trigger Article 16 if they think the concessions offered by the EU are insufficient, but it is a high risk strategy.

“The EU has given ground, but the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is a red line for them and difficult for the UK to accept.

“If large parts of the agreement are suspended, it is likely that the EU would retaliate, starting a trade war.

“It would result in losses for both sides, but those for the UK would be greater.”

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Over recent weeks, Lord Frost has continued to warn the conditions for meeting the triggering of Article 16 have been met, but has insisted he will attempt to find a beneficial solution for both sides.

But Alistair Jones, associate professor in politics at De Montfort University in Leicester, has argued the grounds for activating the mechanism may not exist at all.

He told Express.co.uk: “The problem here is the rules on activating Article 16 – there must be serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are likely to persist.

“This is not specified but the situation in Northern Ireland has not been as bad as mainland Great Britain in terms of food shortages or fuel shortages.

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“There is an issue over getting products from GB to Northern Ireland, but all of this was detailed in the Withdrawal Agreement and the post-Brexit trade agreement.

“The grounds for activating the Article are thin.”

Professor Jones agreed any trade war resulting from the EU retaliating towards the triggering of Article 16 will have a much bigger impact on the UK.

He explained some of the EU27 now have “negligible trade” with Britain so won’t notice any material impact, while the bloc’s size in terms of sourcing products will work much more to its advantage.

The politics expert said: “The UK will be hit more in a trade war than the EU collectively.

“Some member states of the EU have negligible trade with the UK and will not see much difference.

“Where the EU will be better off is in their size.

“They will be able to source alternatives to UK-sourced products within the EU, at a cost that will be far less than the UK trying to do similar.”

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