'Breaking own law!' EU shoots itself in foot with Brexit trade threats – must follow WTO

The EU has launched two new legal proceedings against the UK after Boris Johnson’s Government introduced new domestic legislation to scrap the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol. Britain has been given a two-months ultimatum to comply with the proceedings or potentially face a trade war with the EU.

However, not only the UK is not legally obliged to act upon the proceedings – as they are aimed at ensuring member states comply with EU treaties – a trade war issued by the bloc could see Brussels in breach of its own regulations, according to the lawyer Clive Thorne.

Asked if the UK could legally challenge a trade war brought against it by the EU, the Vice-Chair of Lawyers for Britain told Express.co.uk: “Yes, I think is the answer to that.

“I think that they would be in breach of their withdrawal treaties which are set out in the various European Union treaties.”

Dismissing the threats as “political rhetoric”, Mr Thorne added that even if the UK and Brussels agreed to essentially disregard the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, the bloc would still be obliged by its own legislation to comply with World Trade Organisation rules and avoid a trade war with the UK.

He added: “We are in the realms of hypothesis here, but that really is what would happen.

“But in my view the EU is not legally, nor politically, entitled to do that.

“It’s posturing really.”

On Sunday, Ireland’s ambassador to the UK has said he is “not persuaded” on the legality of legislation to scrap the bulk of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Adrian O’Neill told LBC: “The British government is bringing forward legislation, signalling its intention to unilaterally disapply key provisions, key elements of the protocol.

“So, that clearly is something that we’re very concerned about, our view is we’re not persuaded by the argument that it is legal.

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“We accept fully there are legitimate issues around the operation of the protocol and we believe with serious sustained negotiations between the European Union and United Kingdom government, those issues could be resolved.”

He said the legislation, which London says is needed to restore a power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland, would damage the province’s economy by introducing a dual regulatory regime that could increase costs to business.

“If this bill is enacted, I think we’re in a very serious situation,” he said. “What now needs to happen is really substantive negotiations between the British government and the European Union.”