Watch: EU needs to show ‘a bit of respect’ to UK, Raab says as Brexit row deepens
The Prime Minister met Mr Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel at the G7 summit to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol on Saturday.
The EU’s interpretation of the agreement would prevent cold meats from being sent to Northern Ireland from Britain next month, a dispute dubbed the “sausage war”.
Tensions apparently flared during Mr Johnson’s meeting with the French President after Mr Macron said Northern Ireland could not be compared to a district in France.
Mr Johnson reportedly asked Mr Macron: “How would you like it if the French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?”
Mr Macron replied that it was “not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse are part of the same country,” the paper claimed.
Mr Johnson was said to be furious with his counterpart’s response and later said that EU leaders seemed “to misunderstand that the UK is a single country”.
On Sunday morning, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab accused EU leaders of trying to undermine the status of Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom.
After talks failed to achieve a breakthrough in the sausage war dispute, Mr Raab said the EU was showing a lack of respect.
“What we cannot have is the continuing disruption of trade and effectively try to change the status of Northern Ireland, contrary to the consent and wishes of the people, which is not just contrary to the Northern Ireland Protocol but also to the Belfast Agreement,” he told Sky News’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme.
“We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.
“Could you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, one of the lander in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries? We need a bit of respect here.”
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The Prime Minister has said he would not hesitate to take unilateral action to protect the position of Northern Ireland.
The UK is considering extending the current grace period without the consent of Brussels to ensure that sausages and mince can continue to reach Northern Ireland’s shops.
The Prime Minister told Sky News he would do “whatever it takes”, including using Article 16 of the protocol to act without Brussels’ agreement.
“I think if the protocol continues to be applied in this way then we will obviously not hesitate to invoke Article 16,” he said.
He suggested the EU was adopting a “theologically draconian” approach to the protocol, which effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods as a way of making sure there is not a hard border with Ireland and preserving the peace process.