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The UK is stepping up the threat of rewriting a Brexit agreement with the EU WGN Radio 720

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LONDON (AP) – Britain and the European Union argued again over Brexit on Wednesday, after the UK government stepped up threats to abandon part of its trade deal with the bloc, saying rules blocked the formation of a new government in Northern Ireland.

Foreign Minister Liz Trass said the government “will not shy away from taking action” if it fails to reach an agreement with the bloc.

The EU has warned that revising a legally binding agreement is “not an option”. Any move by Britain to unilaterally rewrite the rules would lead to lawsuits by the bloc that could escalate into a trade war.

The arrangements for Northern Ireland – the only part of the UK bordering the EU – were the most contentious issues during the UK’s divorce from the 27-nation bloc, which became final in late 2020.

A deal has been reached to keep the Irish border free of customs posts and other checks, because the open border is a key pillar of the peace process that ended decades of violence in Northern Ireland. Instead, there are checks on some goods coming to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK

Many British allies in Northern Ireland oppose the agreement, saying the new inspections have created a barrier with the rest of Britain that undermines their British identity. The Democratic Unionist Party, which took second place in last week’s election to the Northern Ireland Assembly, refuses to help form a government until arrangements known as the Northern Ireland Protocol are substantially amended or repealed.

Under the rules of separation of powers in Northern Ireland, a government cannot be formed without the support of both the main Unionist and nationalist parties. Sinn Fein won the most seats last week, the first party seeking to unite Northern Ireland with a republic for the first time in a vote.

Negotiations between the UK and the EU on resolving disputes over trade rules have stalled. The British Conservative government has accused the bloc of having an overly “purist” approach to the rules, while the EU says Britain is not complying with a legally binding agreement agreed to by Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

EU Brexit President Maras Shefkovich said on Tuesday that the bloc was “working tirelessly to offer creative and lasting solutions, demonstrating flexibility in how the protocol should be implemented”.

He warned that “The Protocol, as a cornerstone of the Exit Agreement, is an international agreement. His talks are not an option. The European Union is united in this position. “

Trass, who is in charge of talks with the bloc, said in a statement that the EU’s proposals “fail to properly address the real issues affecting Northern Ireland, and in some cases throwing us back.”

“We always prefer a negotiated solution, but we will not shy away from taking steps to stabilize the situation in Northern Ireland unless solutions are found,” she said.

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Follow the coverage of Brexit from the AP at https://apnews.com/hub/brexit

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