Boris Johnson is seeking to tear apart his own Brexit deal less than a year after it was signed
Image: AFP via Getty Images)
Boris Johnson is on course for fresh showdown with Parliament and the courts as he seeks to tear apart the Brexit deal he negotiated less than a year ago.
The PM wants to rip up the part of the agreement covering Northern Ireland’s border rules if the EU won’t make significant changes to the deal.
A Government source warned that the UK would use a mechanism known as Article 16 to act without agreement from the EU, in a move that would enrage Brussels.
But the PM may have to seek approval from Parliament to ram this through, which could pave the way for a showdown in the Lords where the Tories don’t have a majority.
Nikki da Costa, a former No10 aide, tweeted: “With a v significant Lords majority against the govt, this sets up a clash when the lords repeatedly asks MPs to “think again” even in the face of firm “no” from MPs.
“Ping pong increasingly fraught. Old rules of engagement have frayed.”
Mr Johnson could also face a legal challenge if he triggers Article 16 without parliamentary approval.
Businesswoman Gina Miller won a legal challenge against the Government in 2017, when judges ruled MPs should have a say over triggering the Brexit process.
In a sign of escalating tensions, Brexit minister Lord Frost got into a late-night Twitter spat with Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney over the deal.
Mr Coveney questioned whether the UK wanted a “further breakdown in relations” and accused Lord Frost of setting new red lines.
Lord Frost retorted that he preferred “not to do negotiations by twitter but since @simoncoveney has begun the process…”
He rejected Mr Coveney’s argument that he was making new demands and said “too few people seem to have listened” to the UK position in recent months.
Lord Frost warned that “significant change” was needed for a positive outcome.
The row came as Lord Frost was due to give a speech in Lisbon on Tuesday, where he is expected to demand removal of the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Northern Ireland.
European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said last week that the EU is preparing to table “very far reaching proposals” to address the row over the Northern Ireland protocol.
But he ruled out removal of ECJ oversight, saying: “I find it hard to see how Northern Ireland would stay or would keep access to the single market without oversight of the European Court of Justice.
“Do we want to deprive the people of Northern Ireland of this tremendous opportunity, this huge advantage? Do we want to do that?”
A Government source said: “Tinkering around the edges just won’t work.
“If the EU can’t show ambition and agree significant changes to the Protocol, we will have to use Article 16 to make sure arrangements are in place that do safeguard the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and the peace process.”
Lord Frost will publish a new legal text this week to propose the “foundation” for a new protocol to support the Good Friday Agreement.