Julian Smith accuses EU of ‘almost Trumpian act’ over attempts at blocking vaccine supply to Northern Ireland
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Julian Smith accuses EU of ‘almost Trumpian act’ over attempts at blocking vaccine supply to Northern Ireland

THE EU has been accused of taking a play straight out of the Donald Trump book on diplomacy after attempting to block vaccine supplies to Northern Ireland. 

It comes after the European Commission was forced to withdraw plans to override part of the Northern Ireland Protocol and establish a hard border on experts to the region. 

The proposals sparked fury within hours of being leaked with both the Irish and UK government expressing concern along with leaders from across Northern Ireland. 

Former Northern Ireland secretary Julian Smith was among those to condemn the plans, accusing leaders in Brussels of an "almost Trumpian act" in threatening to override part of Northern Ireland Protocol.   

He told BBC Radio 4's Today Programme the EU “cocked up big time”.   

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"Years have been spent trying to ensure goods will flow freely and there will be no hard border and last night the EU pulled the emergency cord without following any of the process that are in the protocol if one side wants to suspend it. 

"And they did that, in my view, without anywhere near the understanding of the Good Friday Agreement, of the sensitivity of the situation in Northern Ireland, and it was an almost Trumpian act. 

"The relationships are complex, we need to spend much, much more time, much, much more money and much, much more resources in getting this relationship right. The EU cocked up big time last night, but we all need to work in the interests of preserving Northern Ireland. 

"It is not just a backdoor for goods going to Britain, it is a very sensitive place and we have a duty of care between the EU and the UK to preserve no hard border and stability in Northern Ireland." 

Arlene Foster

Northern Ireland’s first minister Arlene Foster was similarly scathing, describing the threat as an "absolutely incredible act of hostility”.   

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She is now calling for UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to replace the protocol in the wake of the row and the ease with which the EU seemed happed to breach the Brexit deal because of “embarrassment around their vaccine procurement." 

"The protocol is unworkable, let's be very clear about that, and we need to see it replaced because otherwise there is going to be real difficulties here in Northern Ireland."