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PM’s Irish Sea trade threat to EU

BORIS Johnson may totally suspend controversial checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea next month if the EU does not drop its hardline approach.

Diplomatic sources told the Daily Mail the Prime Minister fears that disruption to trade caused by stringent checks could destabilise Northern Ireland - just as the Unionist ‘marching season’ approaches.

Mr Johnson raised the issue with Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin yesterday. A Downing Street spokesman said they ‘agreed on the importance of working together to uphold the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement and to maintain smooth trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland’.

The row centres on the Northern Ireland Protocol in the Brexit deal, which prevents checks at the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The EU can still make checks on certain goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland but ministers accuse Brussels of taking a ‘maximalist’ approach, causing serious disruption to trade.

They hope Mr Martin will help persuade Brussels to take a more reasonable stance by targeting only those goods destined for the republic. Ministers have stopped checks on certain goods in recent weeks but may now suspend all checks, which would plunge relations with the EU into the deep freeze.

Anger about the Irish Sea trade border was said to been a factor in Unionist rioting last month.