Northern Ireland: Unionists march against Brexit arrangements
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Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will all be at the meeting of world leaders taking place in Cornwall with each hoping to hold bilateral talks with the US President on the side of the summit. Downing Street insiders are understood to fear Brussels will try to use the G7 to “exploit” Mr Biden’s Irish heritage and get him to side with them on the fallout over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Brexit minister Lord Frost will be at the side of the Prime Minister during the international summit at Carbis Bay.
His presence is planned to help present Britain’s point of view when the EU attempts to point the finger at the UK for Brexit frictions
Goods travelling from Britain to Northern Ireland face bureaucratic customs checks under the Protocol, implemented as part of the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
Britain has warned the measures are having a detrimental impact on the UK’s internal market.
Ministers have also said it risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement by impacting trade, saying the current situation cannot remain in the long run.
Lord Frost is meeting European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič today to try and find a solution to the issues raised by the Protocol.
Ahead of the meeting, he called on the EU to show the “flexibility” required to find a breakthrough.
Criticising the EU for starting legal action against the UK for unilaterally extending the grace periods on the introduction of some customs checks, he said it “pragmatism and common sense solutions” were required.
He said: “Further threats of legal action and trade retaliation from the EU won’t make life any easier for the shopper in Strabane who can’t buy their favourite product.
“Nor will it benefit the small business in Ballymena struggling to source produce from their supplier in Birmingham.
“What is needed is pragmatism and common sense solutions to resolve the issues as they are before us.
“This work is important. And it is ever more urgent.”
A breakthrough in discussions is not expected today, with EU sources saying the next step will be to plead with the US President to get involved this weekend.
One Brussels source said: “I would like him to align with the EU’s position.
“We expect the full implantation of the protocol and I think there’s no reason to change that line.”
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A second official added: “The line is clear.”
President Biden has frequently spoken with pride about his Irish heritage.
He has previously criticised Brexit for risking undermining the peace process in Northern Ireland.
Earlier this year he recommitted his “unwavering support” to the Good Friday Agreement and said peace must not become a “casualty” of Brexit.
Brussels is hoping to persuade him to place pressure on the UK to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol in full.
Mr Biden will travel to Brussels to meet with EU leaders directly after the G7.
However, ahead of the weekend summit, the UK will have a bilateral meeting with the US President of its own.
On Thursday the Prime Minister and Mr Biden will hold discussions in Cornwall in what will be their first face-to-face meeting since the latter took office.
In a coup for the UK, the US President’s visit to Britain is his first overseas trip since his inauguration.
Additional reporting by Joe Barnes, Brussels Correspondent
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