After Emmanuel Macron claimed that post-Brexit Northern Ireland Border Rules were a matter of war and peace,’ Downing Street responded today.
Following his claim regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol, the French President has been accused of trying sow division.
Monsieur Macron got number 10 at lunchtime. The Prime Minister’s Official Spokesperson said, “When it comes to protocol it is vital we all use measured language given the sensibilities involved”.
After claims by Mr Macron that Boris Johnson had been called a “clown” by him, Anglo-French relations suffered another setback amid turmoil over Brexit fishing rights.
Downing Street insists that France and Britain are “close friends” and have an “excellent bilateral relationship.”
After Emmanuel Macron claimed that post-Brexit Northern Ireland Border Rules were a matter ‘war’ and ‘peace’, Downing Street rebuked him today
Downing Street insists that France and the UK are close friends and partners despite rising tensions
The Northern Ireland Protocol was negotiated as part of the Brexit deal to avoid a hard border with Ireland, by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
Unionists are urging for its removal because of trade restrictions it has placed on goods crossing the Irish Sea to Great Britain.
The situation caused tensions that led to the escalation of violence in Belfast early this year.
According to Irish broadcaster RTE, Mr Macron said: ‘The protocol is of existential importance for Europe not to compromise when it comes to our single market, the integrity of that, otherwise there are no longer any rules at the borders.
‘It’s a question of war and peace for Ireland. We should not be less serious.
The remarks provoked anger in Westminster as a senior Whitehall source told the Daily Mail that the comments were ‘incendiary and ill-judged’.
Asked if Mr Johnson agreed with Mr Macron’s ‘war and peace’ comment, the PM’s Official Spokesman said: ‘I think when it comes to the protocol it is vital that we all use measured and appropriate language given the sensitivities involved.
‘It is obviously welcome that President Macron recognises this is a serious situation that needs to be resolved.’
Asked how Mr Johnson would characterise his relationship with Mr Macron, the spokesman said: ‘I think the public on both sides of the Channel expect us to be focused on the issues that matter.
Unionists would like to see the Northern Ireland Protocol scrapped, as it created trade barriers with Great Britain.
‘Be it on closer defence and security relationships or indeed preventing further loss of life in the Channel.
‘The UK and France are close partners and friends. This has been stated by the Prime Minister on several occasions.
‘We are neighbours, we are permanent members of the UN Security Council, NATO allies.’
He added: ‘We have a very close bilateral relationship and we want that to continue.’