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Britain calls EU view of Northern Ireland ‘offensive’

Britain accused European Union leaders on Sunday of holding the “offensive” view that Northern Ireland is not fully part of the United Kingdom, as Brexit cast a shadow over the Group of Seven summit.

Britain and the EU are in a spat over post-Brexit trade arrangements that could see British sausages banned from entering Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that borders the 27-nation bloc. The dispute is raising political tensions in Northern Ireland, where some people identify as British and some as Irish.

British media reported that Prime Minister Boris Johnson asked French President Emmanuel Macron when they met on Saturday in Carbis Bay how he would feel if sausages from Toulouse could not be moved to Paris. They said Mr. Macron replied the comparison did not work because Paris and Tolouse were part of the same country.

Macron’s view draws ire

The French presidency did not deny Mr. Macron had made the comments. It said he was explaining “that Toulouse and Paris were on a geographical unity of territory, Northern Ireland is on an island. The president wanted to stress that the situation was quite different and that it’s not appropriate to hold that kind of comparison.”

U.K. Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the idea Northern Ireland was not an integral part of the U.K. was “not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.”

“Can you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, northern Italy, Corsican France, as different countries?” he said on Sky News. “We need a bit of respect here. And also, frankly, an appreciation of the situation for all communities in Northern Ireland.”

Relations between Britain and the EU have soured since the U.K. made its final break from the bloc at the end of 2020, more than four years after voting to leave.


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Printable version | Jul 24, 2021 1:59:43 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/britain-calls-eu-view-of-northern-ireland-offensive/article34806765.ece

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