BERLIN (Reuters) – Britain should respect post-Brexit trade rules or else face consequences, a German official said on Thursday as British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said it was “crazy” to have checks on goods heading from Britain only to Northern Ireland.
Tensions over the Northern Ireland protocol, signed as part of Britain’s exit from the European Union, flared again after Belfast ordered an immediate halt on Wednesday on checks on agri-foods, earning a rebuke from Brussels.
The protocol kept Northern Ireland in the EU’s customs union for goods in order to preserve a politically sensitive open border with EU member state Ireland. In so doing, though, it created an effective border in the Irish Sea, angering pro-British, pro-Brexit unionists and prompting the British government to seek to rewrite the deal it signed up to in 2019.
“Treaties must be respected,” Franziska Brantner, parliamentary state secretary in Germany’s Economic Ministry, told Reuters.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol applies. We have to protect our European single market and are ready for consequences should Britain not play by the rules,” she added.
Johnson said on Thursday that “practical common sense is what’s needed” to resolve issues with the EU over the Northern Ireland protocol. A spokesman for the European Commission said London had a responsibility to respect the international obligations it had entered into under Brexit.
(Reporting by Holger Hansen; Writing by Paul Carrel)