Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss‘ election as the next UK Prime Minister would have disastrous effects on the Brexit deal, a European Union expert has warned. In her role as Foreign Secretary, Ms Truss has upped the ante with the EU, threatening to implement a Northern Ireland Protocol Bill – designed to scrap the Irish Sea border in place under the current Protocol. If she keeps “politicising” this issue, Dr Fabien Zuleeg warned the EU could cancel the whole Brexit deal and plunge the UK into a worsened cost of living crisis.
Speaking to Express.co.uk, Dr Zuleeg, Chief Executive at the European Policy Centre, said: “Of course, this is plausible. We have the whole procedures being set out within the withdrawal agreement and the Trade and Cooperation Agreement.
“So, yes, we do have methods of escalating this if necessary. It could even go further than a lump sum payment.
“We can go, in the end, towards a suspension or a complete cancelling of the TCA.
“So, we’re talking about immediately a huge impact on trade, on movements in the UK and the European Union.
“Even now if you look at what’s happening at the borders at this moment in time, things are difficult. If the EU doesn’t have that legal framework, it will become impossible.”
Liz Truss has tried to restore political stability in Northern Ireland after the unionist DUP party refused to form a coalition government with the now-largest party, Sinn Fein.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson has raised concern over the Irish Sea checks border and said it would refuse power-sharing until it is completely scrapped.
To broker the stalemate, Liz Truss put forward the Northern Ireland Protocol bill – a bill designed to override the current protocol and scrap the border.
In response, the EU has taken legal action against Boris Johnson’s Government with infringement proceedings, which requires the UK to provide a detailed explanation as to how it will respect the current Protocol.
If the UK fails to act by August, the European Commission may take Boris Johnson’s Government to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU).
If the CJEU finds the UK has failed to honour their commitment to the Protocol, the Commission can ask the CJEU to impose a lump sum fine and/or an ongoing penalty payment.
Should Liz Truss move ahead with her Northern Ireland Protocol bill and flout EU law, the European Commission could then cancel the whole Brexit deal and impose tariffs on the UK – which would then be considered a third country.
“This is a way off at this moment in time. Clearly, there would be steps along the way. There would be targeted sanctions as well, if necessary,” Dr Zuleeg said.
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EU Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic has invited her to the negotiating table with a set of proposals since January.
He warned Liz Truss’ bill would “bury businesses under a mountain of bureaucracy” in Northern Ireland.
Dr Zuleeg’s bet is that Liz Truss, if elected Prime Minister, would ultimately cave in under the EU’s pressure and try to find a compromise on the Protocol.
“But I would think that what we are going to see – unless the UK changes course – is a continuous escalation until the point where the UK changes course,” Dr Zuleeg said.
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