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‘EU would not let Ireland be singled out in protocol row’

London Europe will not allow Ireland to be singled out in the fallout if negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol end in failure, an EU commissioner has insisted.
Ireland’s representative in the European Commission, Mairead McGuinness, was commenting on the potential for the country to be disproportionately affected if there is a breakdown of the Brexit trading arrangement designed to prevent a hardening of the island’s land border.
McGuinness also said UK and EU relations would be in a “very, very difficult place” if there was any truth in claims made by former Downing Street chief advisor Dominic Cummings that the UK Government always intended to ditch the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The EU and UK are set for an intense round negotiations in the coming weeks after Brussels last week published a range of proposals aimed at cutting the red tape the protocol has imposed on moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
However, the plan did not address a key UK demand - the removal of the oversight function of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the operation of the protocol.
UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost has warned that his Government will be prepared to suspend aspects of the protocol - by triggering its Article 16 mechanism - if it cannot reach agreement with the bloc on changing how it operates.
That has raised the prospect of the EU taking retaliatory action, potentially in the form of further restrictions on trade with the UK. (dpa)