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Gove heads to Brussels to thrash out deal on post-Brexit Northern Ireland checks
Although a separate strand of talks to the trade negotiations, the questions over the movement of food from Great Britain to Northern Ireland was dragged into the Brexit discussions in September with Boris Johnson claiming the EU were threatening a food "blockade" down the Irish sea.

He used this to justify the introduction of controversial Brexit clauses into the internal market bill which would give the government unilateral powers to disapply the withdrawal agreement.

Theresa May's Europe adviser Raoul Ruparel said the incendiary clauses were deployed to create leverage in the trade talks, designed to demonstrate to the EU the negative consequences of a no-deal scenario.

Last week it emerged that four in 10 food producers in Great Britain were planning to pause or reduce supply of produce to Northern Ireland because of the checks following similar warnings from Sainsbury's and Marks & Spencer supermarkets.

The joint committee remains one of the most opaque elements of the Brexit deal with little information made public about their workings or the content of the meetings.

Monday's meeting was made public only at 8am, with a UK government announcement that said: "chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster will meet Vice-President Šefčovič today in Brussels to discuss issues related to their work as co-chairs of the withdrawal agreement joint committee."

According to reports the UK government is prepared to drop the part 5 Brexit clauses from the internal market bill which has already been defeated in the House of Lords if "long-term and legally sound" solutions are found to minimise the controls on trade across the Irish sea.

Sources told RTE's Europe editor, Tony Connelly, that "the clauses would be dropped as part of a virtuous sequence of events, beginning with the conclusion of a Free Trade Agreement, followed by a swiftly announced meeting of the EU UK joint committee, which has been negotiating the most difficult aspects of implementing the protocol".

Index of Frank's Diaries
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Dec 7th, 2020 at 12:00:20 PM EST

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