Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney turned up the temperature in the talks by threatening 'very serious' consequences if the Article 16 mechanism is triggered

Simon Coveney, the Irish foreign minister, stepped up the heat in talks and threatened’very severe’ consequences for triggering the Article 16 mechanism.

Today, Britain was informed that no-deal Brexit will be back on the table in the event of suspension of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Simon Coveney (Irish foreign minister) ratcheted up tensions in talks, by warning of’very grave’ consequences if Article 16 is activated.

While he acknowledged that Brussels might go further to make the rules easier to implement, Mr. Coveney indicated that the agreement on trade was contingent upon the honoring of the terms for divorce. 

After a failed meeting between Lord Frost, the EU’s Maros Sfcovic last week, the sabre-rattling ensued. They are scheduled to continue their talks in London this week. 

It claims that it already “bent over backwards” to accept concessions about the implementation of protocol. This was part of Withdrawal Agreement.

There are still key differences, however, over issues such as the European Court of Justice’s role in disputes. Loyalists want to see the new arrangement scrapped. They claim it has contributed to sectarian tensions within Northern Ireland.  

Coveney claimed that the EU is in “solutions mode” and wants to make it easier to check goods being moved from Northern Ireland to the British mainland.

RTE Radio questioned him about the EU’s limits and he criticised RTE Radio’s tough line. Lord Frost had insisted that suspending the protocol was still an option. 

He complained about Britain asking him for too much and offering little in return.

Protests in Belfast last week, amid fears the protocol is fuelling sectarian tensions

Last week saw protests in Belfast amid concerns that the protocol was fuelling sectarian tensions

Coveney claimed that “I believe that if Britain refuses to actually implement the protocol even with all the exceptional flexibilities that are currently on offer” then the EU will take that seriously.

However, that does not necessarily mean a strict border would be established on the island.

“It also means that the Trade and Co-operation Agreement which was reached between the British government and EU was dependent on implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. This protocol is included in the agreement.”

“One depends on the other.” If one side is ignored, the EU could also ignore the other.

While Mr Coveney indicated that he hopes the UK, EU and other countries do not get into a trade conflict, he also questioned whether ministers are acting with ‘good will’.

“The EU has demonstrated remarkable flexibility within protocol limits to try and respond to legitimate concerns which have been expressed by Northern Ireland. However, the British government’s response has been to harden its position and attempts towards reaching a compromise has been to focus on new solutions, instead of trying to solve existing problems.” he stated.

“You should ask the question: Why are they doing it, if this is good faith and if these people want to find solutions?”

Coveney stated that the UK wanted to completely rewrite protocol.

‘The negotiating tactic of the British government of the Prime Minister and of Lord Frost has been very consistent – it has been to offer nothing and to continue to ask for more,’ he said.

Lord Frost

Maros Sefcovic

Following a meeting between Lord Frost (left), and Maros Sezovic (right), the spats began after the EU’s Maros failed to end the impasse. This week, the pair will hold further talks in London.

That is because the EU tried, throughout the year, to find new solutions and new ways of negotiating.

“But, at one point, the EU said, “Enough! We are not negotiating here with a partner that acts in good Faith.”

Keir Sterner warned Labour not to back the government in the event it suspended the protocol.

Sir Keir stated to BBC’s Andrew Marr that Article 16 would not resolve the Northern Ireland Protocol dispute.

This is not in the interest of Northern Ireland businesses or communities. It is their interest to resolve the problems.

‘Because of the way the protocol was drafted, because of what the Prime Minister signed, it is perfectly true that there are checks from Great Britain to Northern Ireland – we want to reduce those.’

He said, “What I’m saying is that you shouldn’t tear up the protocol. It has a very important central purpose. That is to protect Northern Ireland’s no-border policy.”