Boris Johnson: ‘Goodwill’ and ‘imagination’ can fix post-Brexit border problems

The UK announced last week it would unilaterally continue Irish Sea border grace periods until October.

Boris Johnson: ‘Goodwill’ and ‘imagination’ can fix post-Brexit border problems

LONDON — Post-Brexit “teething problems” at the Northern Irish border should be ironed out with “goodwill” and “imagination,” Boris Johnson said Monday.

Speaking at a Downing Street press conference, the prime minister said the U.K. was fixing issues at Northern Ireland’s ports with “some temporary technical things” in a bid to keep trade flowing smoothly.

Britain announced last week it would unilaterally continue Irish Sea border grace periods until October, a move Brussels says breaks the trade agreement signed by the two sides in December, which includes special arrangements for Northern Ireland.

The U.K. and EU had held a series of talks to discuss ongoing disruption to trade in Northern Ireland following Britain’s exit from the bloc. The U.K. wanted grace periods designed to stagger the introduction of bureaucracy associated with the Northern Ireland protocol to be extended to January 2023, rather than expiring at different points during this year.

An agreement had not been reached with the EU when the U.K. government said last Wednesday afternoon it was “taking several temporary operational steps to avoid disruptive cliff edges as engagement with the EU continues.”

Asked about the U.K.’s breach of the deal, Johnson said: “Insofar as there have been teething problems — and there’s no question that there have been — we are fixing those now with some temporary technical things that we’re doing to smooth flow, which I think are very, very sensible. And I’m sure that it can all be ironed out, sorted out, insofar as the EU objects to that, with goodwill and with imagination, and that’s what we intend to bring to it and I’m sure that our friends will as well.”

Johnson, who has come under fire over his claims there would be no non-tariff barriers to trade as a result of the deal, insisted the U.K.’s post-Brexit agreement with the EU was a “great deal” which allowed for free trade with the European Union, and permitted the U.K. to “do things differently where we think that might be a good idea.”

He cited the U.K.’s vaccination program and freeport initiative as examples of that freedom.

“It’s great to get those two things working together. That’s a free trade agreement plus the ability to do things differently in our own way,” he added.

Source : Politico EU More