In a blistering attack, the Prime Minister was accused of “showing his true colours: egocentric, unpredictable, inconsiderate”. He has also been warned his attempts to over-rule the withdrawal agreement could speed up the collapse of the United Kingdom with Northern Ireland and Scotland feeling increasingly sidelined by Westminster’s decision-makers.
Deutschlandradio editor Burkhard Birke said: “Why on earth did the British Prime Minister sign this EU exit treaty including the Northern Ireland Protocol?
“Didn’t he always want a hard Brexit to free Great Britain from the shackles of the Eurocracy, from the dictates of Brussels?
“Now he is doing everything to ensure that there is a bang at the end of the year after the transition period has expired.
“He doesn’t seem to care at all about the contract he concluded.”
The withdrawal agreement calls for border-free trade on the island of Ireland, which the EU says should in some cases require checks on goods passing between Northern Ireland and Britain.
But Mr Johnson has ruled out requiring export declarations or tariffs on such goods.
He has also said Britain would not be bound by EU rules on providing state aid to companies.
Some fear a failure to agree on border arrangements could jeopardise the 1998 Good Friday Agreement which largely ended three decades of sectarian conflict in Northern Ireland.
Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin said he would speak to Mr Johnson to express “very strong concerns” about the initiative while his deputy Leo Varadkar called it a “kamikaze” threat that had backfired.
Mr Birke warned new trade legislation establishing an internal market with Northern Ireland made customs controls or even a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland inevitable.
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Britain left the EU in January but has remained part of the single market under a transition arrangement which expires on December 31.
It has been negotiating a trade deal that would then take effect, but says it is willing to walk away if it cannot agree favourable terms.
Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis told MPs the new bill would break international law but was needed to clarify the Brexit agreement in the event the sides fail to reach a trade deal.
(Additional reporting by Monika Pallenberg)
Published at Wed, 09 Sep 2020 11:16:00 +0000