The travails of the Northern Ireland Protocol continue when unity is needed more than ever

Those versed in the arts of statecraft know that the real trick is letting someone else have their way.

Unfortunately, such silky flair or political finesse has either been lost or left aside in the hard-hitting Brexit thrashing. Hopes for a restart of the negotiations with the change of power from Boris Johnson to Liz Truss may have been premature.

Once again, London has chosen to risk further alienating the European Union by responding to legal threats over the Northern Ireland Protocol by refusing to fully implement the post-Brexit agreement.

Downing Street’s response to the seven Brussels infringement cases was that they will unilaterally continue the grace periods currently in force for checks. In short, the UK still refuses to oblige retailers and exporters to carry out the agreed controls.

There may still be room for conversation, but sticking to the hard line doesn’t bode well.

The death of Queen Elizabeth II was a reminder of the benefits of close ties and working together in the continent’s darkest hours.

With the shadow of war renewed over Europe and a crippling energy crisis, we must find ways to work together to protect common interests.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will be at the Queen’s funeral on Monday.

As of now, there is no word of a meeting between her and Ms. Truss, but every opportunity to avoid another meltdown should be seized.

Taoiseach Micheál Martin will have side talks with Ms. Truss about the protocol, sources say.

The UK has set out its position in a letter, but the content will not be discussed during the mourning period.

Some are clinging to the possibility that since Ms Truss has yet to trigger Article 16 – effectively undermining the deal – there might be a small margin for progress. But there are still no signs of a real breakthrough or compromise in London.

A breakdown is in nobody’s interest.

Earlier this week, EU Brexit chief Maros Sefcovic hinted at how flexible Brussels is willing to be. He said physical customs checks across the Irish Sea could be reduced to just a few lorries a day and that the trade border would be “invisible”.

Such a deal is conditional on the UK providing EU officials with real-time data on trade movements. An equally constructive approach from London would change the situation.

The Office for Budget Responsibility says Brexit will have a long-term effect by cutting UK GDP by 4 per cent. Such a drop amounts to £100bn in lost production and £40bn less revenue for the UK Treasury, the government said financial times.

So a trade war is the last thing anyone needs as we head into a winter of price spikes and energy shortages.

The EU is currently weighing its options, including taking Britain to the EU Court of Justice.

Right now, a solution would be so much better than a showdown. The travails of the Northern Ireland Protocol continue when unity is needed more than ever

Fry Electronics Team

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