Boris Johnson will meet EU leaders for awks G7 barbecue as NI law faces first hurdle in Parliament

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Boris Johnson will sit down for an awkwardly timed G7 barbecue with EU leaders this evening – as his controversial new law to over-ride the Brexit deal with Brussels faces its first Parliamentary hurdle.

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The Prime Minister will share wurst in Bavaria tonight with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz, as well as the EU’s Ursula Von der Leyen as he continues his foreign diplomatic tour.

Meanwhile, back in Westminster, MPs are set to vote on controversial new legislation to give ministers powers to override parts of the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.

The UK has insisted that its unilateral approach is the only option left to resolve issues ‘baked in’ to the protocol if the EU maintains its refusal fundamentally to rewrite the terms of the deal.

But the move has sparked a fierce backlash from the bloc, with fresh legal action launched against Britain last week.

Government sources said they are ‘reasonably confident’ of avoiding a major revolt tonight.

And Mr Johnson today signaled that his plan to effectively tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol could have been done ‘fairly quickly’ and be law by the end of the year.

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The Prime Minister told reporters at the G7 summit in Germany, which is also being attended by senior figures from the European Union, that ‘the interesting thing is how little this conversation is being had, certainly here’ – indicating he is not expecting a major diplomatic row.

The Prime Minister will share wurst in Bavaria tonight with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz, as well as the EU’s Ursula Von der Leyen as he continues his foreign diplomatic tour.

The Prime Minister will share wurst in Bavaria tonight with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz, as well as the EU’s Ursula Von der Leyen as he continues his foreign diplomatic tour.

The Prime Minister will share wurst in Bavaria tonight with France’s Emmanuel Macron and Germany’s Olaf Scholz, as well as the EU’s Ursula Von der Leyen as he continues his foreign diplomatic tour.

Boris Johnson's administration has argued that the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

Boris Johnson's administration has argued that the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

Boris Johnson’s administration has argued that the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

Mr Johnson last night with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Italy’s Mario Draghi at a working dinner during the first day of the G7 leaders' summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau

Mr Johnson last night with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Italy’s Mario Draghi at a working dinner during the first day of the G7 leaders' summit at Bavaria's Schloss Elmau

Mr Johnson last night with European Council President Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, US President Joe Biden, Germany’s Olaf Scholz, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Canada’s Justin Trudeau and Italy’s Mario Draghi at a working dinner during the first day of the G7 leaders’ summit at Bavaria’s Schloss Elmau

Boris urges focus on Ukraine as Tory rebels demand Cabinet coup

Boris Johnson is urging a focus on Ukraine today as Tory rebels urge the Cabinet to stage a coup in the wake of the by-election disasters.

The PM is busy burning his statesman credentials at the G7 summit in Bavaria, where leaders are discussing ways to help thwart Vladimir Putin.

But the Conservative mood at home is still seething after the parties meltdown in Tiverton and Wakefield – and the premier’s suggestion over the weekend that he wants to stay in No10 for another decade has done little to help.

Nerves have been further jangled by persistent rumors that six MPs are considering defecting to Labor.

Environment Secretary George Eustice insisting in a round of interviews this morning that the Cabinet remains united behind Mr Johnson, despite the dramatic resignation by Tory chair Oliver Dowden on Friday.

But William Wragg, the Tory chairman of the Commons Public Administration Committee, told BBC Radio 4’s Westminster Hour his own seat – and those of colleagues ‘with majorities much larger than mine’ – are under threat while Mr Johnson remains as PM.

‘What we are trying to do is fix something that I think is very important to our country, which is the balance of the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement.

‘You have got one tradition, one community, that feels that things really aren’t working in a way that they like or understand, you’ve got unnecessary barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

‘All we are saying is you can get rid of those whilst not in any way endangering the EU single market.’

Asked if the measures could be in place this year, he said: ‘Yes, I think we could do it very fast, Parliament willing.’

He said it would be ‘even better’ if we could ‘get some of that flexibility we need in our conversations with Maros Sefcovic’, the European Commission vice-president, adding: ‘We remain optimistic.’

But Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs said he is ‘hugely disappointed’ that the British Government is continuing to pursue its ‘unlawful’ unilateral approach on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Simon Coveney said: ‘This is not the way to find sustainable solutions to the genuine concerns of people and business in Northern Ireland and only adds to uncertainty.

‘I continue to urge the British Government to return to constructive dialogue with the EU in pursuit of jointly agreed, long-lasting solutions.’

Mr Johnson’s administration has argued that the measures to remove checks on goods and animal and plant products traveling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland are necessary to safeguard the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability.

Unionist opposition to the imposition of checks which they perceive as driving a wedge down the Irish Sea has seen the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) refuse to return to the powersharing executive, leaving the region without a functioning government.

European Commission vice-president has Maros Sefcovic indicated further measures could follow if the UK pressed ahead with the Bill.

The dispute could ultimately lead to a trade war, with tariffs or even the suspension of the entire Brexit deal between the UK and the EU.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will ‘fix the problems’ that the post-Brexit arrangements in the region have caused.

‘A negotiated solution has been and remains our preference, but the EU continues to rule out changing the Protocol itself – even though it is patently causing serious problems in Northern Ireland – which therefore means we are obliged to act,’ she said.

A source close to the Foreign Secretary added: ‘There is ultimately a simple logic to doing this legislation: the Protocol is undermining the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and creating myriad problems in Northern Ireland, but the EU are still refusing to change or renegotiate the Protocol , therefore we are obliged to act.

‘That simple logic seems to be winning round some of the wavering / moderate types in the middle of this debate.

‘As recently as last week Sefcovic was saying the EU will not renegotiate the Protocol, which rather proves our point.

‘Ideally we reach the same solutions as the legislation through a negotiated settlement, but that’s impossible unless the EU accept parts of the Protocol itself need fixing.

‘International agreements change all the time when circumstances change – and article 13 of the Protocol itself allows for it to be changed – so we’re slightly baffled by the EU position that the Protocol is set in stone and can’t be changed. It can and should be. ‘

The Prime Minister played down concerns over legal challenges during a trip to Rwanda earlier this week.

‘We’ve got a legal case against us for failing to have proper customs procedures, all sorts of things,’ he said.

He suggested that the response to plans was more ‘muted’ than expected.

As the Bill returns to Parliament for its second reading this afternoon, MPs will debate its main principles and decide whether it can proceed for further consideration.

Ms Truss will tell the Commons the legislation is a basis for a durable and sustainable solution that protects the Good Friday Agreement, avoids a hard border, safeguards the EU single market and ensures the integrity of the UK.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the Government's Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will 'fix the problems' that the post-Brexit arrangements in the region have caused.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the Government's Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will 'fix the problems' that the post-Brexit arrangements in the region have caused.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the Government’s Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will ‘fix the problems’ that the post-Brexit arrangements in the region have caused.

However, she is likely to be met with a backlash from those who oppose the move.

Sir Keir Starmer has said Labor would axe the proposed laws if it was in power, and confirmed his party will vote against the legislation at Westminster.

Mr Sefcovic previously declined to rule out a trade war, saying: ‘We have to keep all options on the table.’

But he emphasised the EU’s preference to find a negotiated solution to the problems caused by the protocol, lamenting the ‘radio silence from London since February’.

On Sunday, Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis suggested it was ‘absurd’ for Europe to issue warnings about a trade war with the UK when they had not fully implemented sanctions on Putin for invading Ukraine.

‘What we’re talking about is fixing here some of the issues in terms of the implementation of the protocol that is so detrimentally affecting Northern Ireland,’ he told Times Radio.

The EU’s ambassador to the UK, Joao Vale de Almeida, said the Government is likely on ‘a road to nowhere’.

Speaking to Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday about the Bill, he said: ‘We are not dismissing (what the UK has proposed), but we read it very carefully and, to be very frank, we think it is both illegal and unrealistic.’

Alongside the second reading, the Government is launching a series of ‘structured engagements’ with the business community to discuss and gather views on the Bill’s implementation.

The Foreign Office is hosting the first roundtable event on Monday, bringing together more than a dozen major UK businesses and representative groups including the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce, Asda, John Lewis and the Dairy Council NI.

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