The expiration of the grace period for the UK to respond to legal proceedings brought by the EU on September 15 has sparked renewed debate over Article 16, with the new Prime Minister Liz Truss encouraged to trigger the move which would unilaterally suspend parts of the Brexit agreement in a new poll of Express.co.uk readers.
Prime Minister Ms Truss could activate Article 16 before this deadline, but would risk increased UK-EU relations and a potential trade war.
Her allies have said that she will not take emergency action. One told the Financial Times last week: “I’d be surprised if we go down the Article 16 route, although we’re not ruling anything out.”
Article 16, part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, is an emergency mechanism which allows either the UK or EU to take unilateral action over the Northern Ireland Procol.
Triggering the clause would allow the introduction of temporary safeguarding measures to protect society and the economy.
In a poll that ran from 10am on Monday, September 12, to 8am on Wednesday, September 14, Express.co.uk asked readers: “Should Liz Truss trigger Article 16?”
Overall, 7,753 people responded with the vast majority, 93 percent (7,177 people) answering “yes”, Ms Truss should trigger Article 16.
Meanwhile, a further seven percent said “no”, she should not, and just 64 people said they did not know either way.
Hundreds of comments were left below the accompanying article as readers debated whether Article 16 should be activated.
Most readers were in favour, with username Wafoo commenting: “Should have been triggered years ago.”
Username johnbull1 said: “Truss should do whatever it takes, whatever is necessary, to kick the EU out of British domestic affairs permanently.”
While username Growsomeordo1! Said: “Let us have the Brexit we all voted for.”
And username euripedes said: “Should have triggered Article 16 long ago, not to do so shows weakness.”
Some readers argued that Ms Truss must trigger Article 16, with one reader, username wilfred01 writing: “If the EU won’t come to the table. We have no choice.”
Username ukwizard said: “It will be a bit tough going for a while, but yes, bite the bullet!”
Another, username QualityCounts said: “It is no longer a case of whether she should, It’s a case of she will have to.
“The EU has had since the start of 2021 to be pragmatic and act in a reasonable manner. Now it’s time that the UK Government makes it blatantly obvious we will not be bullied.”
Some EU diplomats have said that activation of Article 16 would be seen as “a provocative act” and lead to increased tension with Brussels.
An EU official also told the Financial Times: “Unilateral action will never be acceptable. Only joint solutions can work.
“We have been calling on the UK Government to engage. That still stands today. We have made proposals. Our doors are open to discuss them.”
Sinn Féin MP John Finucanes said last month that “reckless threats” to trigger Article 16 were evidence of the UK government’s “total disregard for the democratic wishes of people and businesses here”.
He urged Ms Truss to “get back to the table with the EU to give certainty and stability to our businesses”.