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EU tells Michael Gove that Northern Ireland Protocol must remain

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, collects his morning coffee from a coffee shop in central London - Credit: PA

The EU has rejected a call from Michael Gove to change the Northern Ireland Protocol – with the European Commission insisting it is the “only way” to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

In a letter to the Cabinet Office minister on the eve of their meeting in London, the Commission’s vice president Maros Sefcovic wrote: “The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the Union, its single market and its customs union presents unique and significant challenges for the island of Ireland.

“The protocol is the solution agreed by the UK and the EU to these challenges: it is the only way to protect the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement, preserving peace and stability and avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

“It is designed to ensure clarity and predictability for people and businesses, while minimising the disruption inevitably caused by the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. It is a balanced outcome after years of difficult negotiations and is now our mutually agreed legal obligation.

“I therefore agree that our shared objective is to work tirelessly in order to make the protocol work. It requires full and faithful implementation by both parties.

“The Union’s commitment to the objectives of the protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, as a cornerstone of both the Withdrawal Agreement and the relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom, is unwavering.”

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