European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic called for an emergency meeting with Michael Gove in order to ensure the Government doesn’t attem
European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic called for an emergency meeting with Michael Gove in order to ensure the Government doesn’t attempt to water down the EU Withdrawal Agreement it signed last year. The pair held talks last night after Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said the Internal Market Bill will breach the divorce deal with the bloc “in a very specific and limited way”. Downing Street insisted Cabinet Office minister Mr Gove explained the move was simply a “safety net” if trade talks fail to deliver an agreement before the end of the year.
But Mr Sefcovic angrily hit back at the claims, insisting Brussels was still concerned with No10’s explanations of its plans.
He said: “I expressed our strong concerns and sought assurances that the UK will fully and timely comply with the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Northern Ireland.”
The Brussels bureaucrat demanded for the Government to “elaborate and respond to our strong concerns on the Bill”.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will personally intervene in the trade row after the Bill is presented to the House of Commons.
Downing Street insisted the move was sensible preparation for the end of the post-Brexit transition period.
A Government spokesman said: “Michael Gove spoke with vice-president Sefcovic yesterday evening and had a constructive conversation. On the Internal Market Bill, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster explained the limited and reasonable steps being introduced to create a safety net that removes any ambiguity and ensures that the Government is always able to deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland.
“He underlined the UK’s commitment to implementing the Protocol, noting that the UK has already taken extensive steps to implement the Protocol in close cooperation with the EU and that he hoped Joint Committee discussions would reach a satisfactory conclusion.”