The unimpressed BBC Question Time audience member dismissed the ongoing Brexit deal row between the UK and the European Union as “nonsense.” The EU caused an uproar this week after threatening to cut off access to chilled meats produced in Britain into the Northern Ireland market because of non-compliance to union law. But the audience member slammed the move, insisting the bloc should just “accept” the nation is part of the UK and they have no jurisdiction over goods travelling in from the mainland.
He said: “It’s absolute nonsense, is it? Nobody is suggesting for a minute that chilled meats coming from the mainland to Northern Ireland is in any way unsafe.
“Come on EU, accept the fact that Northern Ireland is part of the United Kingdom.
“Let’s get round the table and sort it out.”
The audience member also noted the ongoing customs arrangements, which effectively see Northern Ireland abide by customs union and single market regulation contrary to all other parts of the UK, are due to have a negative effect on the neighbouring Republic of Ireland.
He continued: “The people in Southern Ireland must be appalled, it must have an impact on their freedom of movement as well and free trade.
“These things can all be sorted out if there’s a willingness from both parties to get together, address it with some common sense and move on.”
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is due to meet with Emmanuel Macron and Angela Merkel as well as European Commission Ursula von der Leyen as the leaders arrive in Cornwall to attend the G7 Summit on Friday.
Previous negotiations between Lord Frost and Commissioner Maros Sefcovic failed to produce a resolution to the row, with the UK urging Brussels to be “more pragmatic” after accusing the bloc of being “excessively burdensome” in its interpretation of the Northern Ireland protocol.
The Protocol effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European single market in order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, meaning a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain.
Mr Johnson, who will hold talks with EU leaders over the course of the G7 summit, told the BBC: “You will understand that there are ways of enforcing the protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome.
“I just give you one statistic: 20% of the checks conducted across the whole of the perimeter of the EU are now done in Northern Ireland, three times as many as happen in Rotterdam.”
The new post-Brexit arrangements came into effect on January 1 and the dispute is still simmering, but Mr Johnson insisted “I think we can sort it out”.
US President Joe Biden, who has Irish ancestry, is taking a close interest in the dispute and has warned against anything that could destabilise the arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement.