EU drops vote to ratify Brexit deal after Boris Johnson 'violates' agreement

Ursula von der Leyen addresses MEPs

Ursula von der Leyen addresses MEPs. Photograph: Daina LE LARDIC/European Parliament.

MEPs have dropped plans to approve Boris Johnson's Brexit deal after the UK government was accused of violating the agreement.

The UK’s latest Brexit move saw the government unilaterally extend the Northern Ireland Protocol grace period until October, despite on-going conversations with the EU.

In a damning statement, Maroš Šefčovič, vice president of the European Commission, said the move announced by Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis amounted to a “violation” of the withdrawal agreement.

MORE: EU ‘simply cannot trust’ No 10 after NI Protocol move, says Irish foreign secretary

He added: "The European Commission will respond to these developments in accordance with the legal means established."

The European parliament is yet to ratify the deal after asking for further time to debate the agreement, with only a provisional agreement in place.

Officials close to the EU said that a vote had been expected on 25 March, but that after a meeting the vote had been left off the parliamentary agenda.

A source told the Independent: "The conference of presidents this morning decided not to agree a date to ratify the TCA, pending developments yesterday.

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"The European Parliament leaders want to see where this is going."

German MEP Bernd Lange, chair of the trade committee, tweeted an excerpt of former EU documentation in a message aimed at No 10.

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“Still valid: ‘Should the UK authorities breach – or threaten to breach – the withdrawal agreement, through the United Kingdom internal market bill ... or in any other way, the European parliament will, under no circumstances, ratify any agreement between the EU and the UK,’” he wrote.

Downing Street has insisted Brussels and Dublin had been informed in advance about the action the UK was taking.

The prime minister's official spokesman said: “We notified the European Commission at the official level earlier this week.

“We also informed the Irish government earlier this week and then Lord Frost last night in his call to (European Commission vice-president Maros) Sefcovic obviously discussed this at length and set out the rationale and the reasons for it.”

Earlier Ireland's foreign secretary claimed that the EU "simply cannot trust" the government in negiotiations. 

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