Boris Johnson: Northern Ireland issues post-Brexit 'can't go on forever'

Prime Minister Boris Johnson walks to a television interview in New York whilst attending the United Nations General Assembly. – Stefan Rousseau /PA

Boris Johnson has warned that the post-Brexit issues with Northern Ireland “can't go on forever” as he claimed the Dutch Prime Minister has offered to mediate on the issue.

Brexit minister Lord Frost has argued that the threshold of triggering Article 16 of the protocol, which would effectively tear up parts of the deal he negotiated, has been met.

So far the Government has resisted taking what amounts to a nuclear option, but Mr Johnson was asked if he could make the move in the days after meeting the US president, Joe Biden.

“I hope everybody knows this isn't something that the UK Government is trying to stoke up for our own political purposes,” he told reporters travelling with him to New York for the United Nations General Assembly.

“On the contrary, we want to fix this, we want common sense. We want no barriers in the UK for trading in our country and it's crazy at the moment that we've got the protocol being enforced or being used in the way that it is.

Speaking to reporters during his trip to Washington, Mr Johnson said the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte had come to the UK last week to “see if he could mediate on the issue”.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte arrives in Downing Street to meet with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – Leon Neal /Getty Images Europe

However, Dutch diplomatic sources told the Guardian Mr Rutte made no such intervention but instead urged Mr Johnson to be “constructive, pragmatic and engage with the commission” during a phone call.

The Prime Minister insisted on Monday that the UK is not “trying to stoke” the problems ahead of a meeting with Mr Biden at the White House on Tuesday.

Proud of his Irish heritage, Mr Biden has repeatedly warned the Government not to damage the peace process amid continuing issues over the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The protocol was designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU's single market for goods.

But the UK wants to rewrite it because of trade barriers it has created for goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain.

Brussels has rejected the calls, leading to a stand-off where post-Brexit grace periods on goods have repeatedly been extended in order to prevent further shortages.

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