Brexit news: WTO chief says disastrous trade war between UK and EU is possible ‘not what we need’ Politics | New
And with the fight against the coronavirus pandemic underway, Managing Director Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala has warned that a protracted dispute is “not what the world needs right now.” Ms Okonjo-Iweala was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Cornwall, with the row over contentious rules for Northern Ireland threatening to overshadow the event.
The UK opposes the large number of checks required on goods traveling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
Neither side backing down, it seems unlikely that a resolution is imminent, a fact highlighted by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has warned he is ready to do “whatever it takes”, including triggering article 16, which would deactivate the protocol.
Speaking after Mr Johnson’s comments, Ms Okonjo-Iweala took on a worried tone.
She said: “I really, really hope that a trade war between the UK and the EU does not take place.
“With all the opportunities for dialogue that there are too, I would be a little surprised if we ended up with a trade war between the UK and the EU.
“It’s too costly for both sides. It’s not what the world needs right now.”
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Earlier today, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen tweeted: “The Good Friday Agreement and peace on the island of Ireland are paramount.
“We negotiated a protocol that preserves this, signed and ratified by the UK and the EU.
“We want the best possible relationship with the UK.
“Both sides must implement what we agreed to. There is complete EU unity on this.”
Mr Johnson then threw down the gauntlet, telling Sky News: “I think we can fix the problem, but it is up to our friends and partners in the EU to understand that we will do whatever it takes.
“I think if the protocol continues to be applied in this way, then obviously we will not hesitate to invoke article 16.
“I have spoken to some of our friends here today, who do not seem to understand that the UK is one country, one territory. I just need to get them to understand that. “
A spokesperson for No 10 said that in his talks with EU leaders, Mr Johnson stressed his desire for “pragmatism and compromise on all sides” while stressing the need to protect the peace process by North Ireland.
The spokesperson added: “The Prime Minister underlined the UK position on the Northern Ireland Protocol and the need to maintain both the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK.
“The Prime Minister made it clear that the UK is committed to finding practical solutions under the protocol that protect the objectives of the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday) and minimize the impact on the daily lives of people. inhabitants of Northern Ireland. “