As emergency talk over Brexit take place today the EU has expressed “serious concerns” over Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s move to override part of the Brexit divorce deal.
The make or break discussions were addressed by Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer who insisted Mr Johnson needed to secure a deal with the EU. He said: “If you fail to get a deal, Prime Minister, you own that failure.”
European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said he will listen to what Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has to say during an “extraordinary meeting” on Thursday, before deciding whether Britain can still be trusted.
The hastily arranged meeting of the UK-EU joint committee in London was arranged after the Government tabled legislation to alter key elements of the Withdrawal Agreement that Mr Johnson signed with Brussels.
The Government infuriated Brussels just as trade deal negotiations reached a crunch week, when ministers admitted they could break international law over the deal.
Mr Sefcovic, arriving at St Pancras, told reporters: “I came here to express the serious concerns that the European Union has over the proposed Bill. So that will be the nature of our discussions today.”
Asked if he has lost trust in the UK Government, Mr Sefcovic replied: “Let’s hear what Michael Gove will tell me this afternoon.”
Mr Gove was expected to tell his EU counterpart during the talks, scheduled to last two hours, that the UK is committed to implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“I would expect him also to explain that as a responsible Government, we must provide a safety net that removes any ambiguity and ensure that the Government can always deliver on its commitment to the people of Northern Ireland,” the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said.
Meanwhile, EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and his counterpart from Downing Street, Lord Frost, will meet for the final day in the eighth round of trade deal negotiations.
Downing Street said negotiations could resume as quickly as next week if both sides agree, but that the ninth round is currently scheduled for the week commencing September 28.
Mr Johnson has argued that the UK Internal Markets Bill tabled this week is necessary to preserve unfettered trade within the UK and prevent a border between Britain and Northern Ireland.
But he has dismayed Brussels by threatening to breach international law.
Irish Taoiseach Micheal Martin called the Prime Minister to express his concerns, including “the breach of an international treaty, the absence of bilateral engagement and the serious implications for Northern Ireland”.
The move has also angered some in the US, where Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House of Representatives, said there is “absolutely no chance” of Congress passing a trade deal with the UK if it threatens the Northern Ireland peace process.
Tory former prime minister Sir John Major reacted angrily to Mr Johnson’s stance on international law.
“For generations, Britain’s word, solemnly given, has been accepted by friend and foe. Our signature on any treaty or agreement has been sacrosanct,” he said.
“Over the last century, as our military strength has dwindled, our word has retained its power. If we lose our reputation for honouring the promises we make, we will have lost something beyond price that may never be regained.”