UK-EU sausage row goes from bad to worse

Published June 14, 2021
UK anger with Europe sizzled on Sun­day after a sausage-themed dispute between the British and French leaders over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. — AFP/File
UK anger with Europe sizzled on Sun­day after a sausage-themed dispute between the British and French leaders over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland. — AFP/File

CARBIS BAY: UK anger with Europe sizzled on Sun­day after a sausage-themed dispute between the British and French leaders over post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.

Brussels is equally angered at London’s refusal to implement checks on goods heading into Northern Ireland from England, Scotland and Wales.

Talks broke down earlier this week, and the European Union is threatening retaliation if Britain unilaterally extends a grace period for trade in chilled meat, including sausages, next month.

The issue was raised again when Prime Minister Boris Johnson met French President Emmanuel Macron for talks on the sidelines of the G7 summit in southwest England on Saturday.

Johnson asked the French leader to imagine if Toulouse sausages were barred from sale in Paris, which left Macron “astonished”, according to a source in the president’s office.

“He... told him Toulouse is part of the same territory, which is not the case for Northern Ireland” because it is separated from Great Britain by the Irish Sea, the source said.

“These are different geographical configurations and we are comparing things that are absolutely not comparable.” Johnson was furious, according to the Sunday Times. “Northern Ireland and Britain are part of the same country,” he reportedly told Macron.

The testy bilateral exchange explains Johnson’s comments on Saturday that “some of our friends... do seem to misunderstand that the UK is a single country and a single territory”.

“I think they just need to get that into their heads,” he told Sky News, threatening to suspend the Brexit trading arrangements if the situation is not resolved.

Macron made a plea for calm on all sides at his end-of-summit news conference Sunday. “We’re not going to have a row about this every day,” he said.

“France never called into question British sovereignty, the integrity of British territory and respect for that sovereignty,” he added.

Johnson also played down the row in his closing remarks, although he restated his vow to do “whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK” and said he repeatedly told European leaders the UK was “indivisible”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab upped the tone earlier on Sunday, demanding that the EU show more “respect” for the UK’s territorial integrity and avoid “ignorant comments”.

“We have seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it were somehow a different country to the UK,” he said, calling it “offensive” and damaging to the restive province’s communities.

“Can you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, northern Italy, Corsican France, as different countries?” French officials described the meeting as “tense”, although Johnson’s spokesman insisted he and Macron still had a “constructive” relationship.

The leader of Northern Ireland’s pro-British Demo­cratic Unionist Party, Edwin Poots, was outraged and demanded that France “recognises Northern Ireland’s constitutional status”.

“Key leaders in the Eur­opean Union clearly do not even understand the basics let alone the finer details,” he said in a statement.

“It is time for the (UK) government to stop talking about fixes to the protocol and get on with taking the necessary steps to remove it.” The Northern Ireland Prot­ocol, signed separately from the Brexit trade deal agreed in December, is supposed to see checks on goods heading into the province from mainland Britain.

Published in Dawn, June 14th, 2021

Opinion

The curse of irrelevance
24 Jul 2021

The curse of irrelevance

Fear, in essence, is a powerful de-motivator for those who believe their success lies in lazy public validation...
Good & bad Muslims
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Good & bad Muslims

It is essential to interrogate the wider epidemic of violence.
The Afghan stalemate
Updated 21 Jul 2021

The Afghan stalemate

The Taliban cannot think of ruling Afghanistan without international legitimacy.

Editorial

Cyberattack on rights
Updated 24 Jul 2021

Cyberattack on rights

A COLLABORATIVE investigation into a data leak of software sold by the Israeli surveillance company NSO Group has ...
24 Jul 2021

Sleeper cells

THERE was a time not too long ago when militant groups had unleashed a reign of terror in Pakistan, resulting in...
24 Jul 2021

Prisoners’ return

THE families of 62 Pakistani prisoners who had been imprisoned in Saudi Arabia had reason to rejoice this Eid as...
India’s admission
Updated 24 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.