EUROPEAN leaders are arriving in Cornwall as Boris Johnson’s G7 talks threaten to be eclipsed by a heated Brexit trade row with Brussels.
Emmanuel Macron touched down at Newquay Airport with his wife Brigitte this morning hours after ramping up the “sausage wars” tensions.
The French President scolded Britain for wanting to haggle the Northern Ireland protocol and slammed the door on a renegotiation.
Mr Johnson last night hit out at “excessively burdensome” Brexit checks on goods in Northern Ireland, which are inflaming tensions in the province.
Brussels has threatened to start a trade war with Britain if the Government tears up the Brexit deal by refusing to do the checks in Northern Ireland.
The so-called “sausage war” overshadowed the start of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay this weekend and risked conflict with the United States.
As the G7 kicked off:
The PM yesterday held bilateral talks with Joe Biden and said the pair were “in complete harmony” about Northern Ireland following reports the White House had warned the UK to deescalate tensions.
But this morning Mr Johnson said: “There are ways of enforcing the protocol, ways of making it work, that may be excessively burdensome.
“I just give you one statistic: 20 per cent 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.”
Although stressing the G7 was not the place, Mr Johnson was confident he could “sort out” the dispute with Brussels.
But ahead of the summit President Macron said: “I think it’s not serious to want to review in June what we finalised after years of debate and work in December.”
It is believed the PM will sit down with President Macron tomorrow morning.
EU chief Ursula Von der Leyen – who also arrived in Cornwall this morning – tried to defuse the row and said she was “deeply convinced” a fix can be found.
She added: “We have shown flexibility, we will show flexibility, but the Protocol and the (Brexit) Withdrawal Agreement have to be implemented completely.”
Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the “ball is in the EU’s court”.
President Biden – of Irish heritage – has warned against anything that could destabilise the arrangements put in place by the Good Friday Agreement.
The Brexit dispute has inflamed tensions for unionists in Northern Ireland, who dislike barriers with Great Britain.
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The White House has indicated Mr Biden has deep concerns about the situation – and Mr Johnson’s Government’s approach to it – but the Prime Minister played down the prospect of a rift.
“The president didn’t say anything of the kind,” he told the BBC following their talks on Thursday.
“But what I think you can certainly say … is that everybody – and that includes me, includes our friends in Brussels, it includes Washington – everybody has a massive interest in making sure that we keep the essential symmetry of the Good Friday Agreement, we keep the balance.”
The G7 menu: World leaders to dine on local food
Starters: Spiced melon, gazpacho, coconut, high note herbs
Main: Turbot roasted on the bone (caught off the Cornish coast by a fisherman from Newquay) with Cornish new potatoes and wild garlic pesto with greens from the local Padstow kitchen gardens
Cheese course: Cornish cheese – Gouda, Cornish yarg, helford blue
Dessert: English strawberry pavlova Petit fours: Clotted cream fudge, Mini clotted cream ice cream cone with chocolate earl grey truffles
Canapes: sparkling scallops, Curgurrell Crab Claws and Portscatho Mackerel.
Main: Seared and smokey Moorland sirloin, Newlyn lobster and scorched leeks served with sides of layered Cornish potato chips, St Just purple sprout broccoli and salt baked beetroot.
Dessert: Beach Hut Sundae, baked brie, hot buttered rum and toasted marshmallows around firepits on the beach.
To drink: Cornish sparkling wine, German Riesling, Australian Shiraz, Cornish beer and hedge row fizz cocktail.