EU boss’s blunt message for Boris Johnson on sausage wars: ‘Time to deliver’

Ursula von der Leyen wearing a suit and tie standing next to a body of water: ursula-vonderleyen.jpg © AFP via Getty Images ursula-vonderleyen.jpg

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen is set to deliver a blunt message to Boris Johnson that it is time for him to make good on the promises he made in his Brexit withdrawal deal.

With patience wearing thin in Brussels over the so-called “sausage wars” in Northern Ireland, the prime minister faces a quartet of the EU’s most powerful politicians in a bruising set of early-morning encounters at the G7 summit in Cornwall on Saturday.

As the UK calls for flexibility from the EU following the collapse of talks last week, one of Ms von der Leyen’s closest aides told The Independent that she would have a simple message for the PM: “Now is the time for the UK to deliver on the commitments it has made.”

The message is likely to be forcefully repeated by French president Emmanuel Macron - who used an eve-of-summit press conference to declare that nothing in the Northern Ireland Protocol agreed by Johnson in 2019 is open for renegotiation.

As the row threatened to overshadow the PM’s first outing as host of an international gathering, he took the unusual step of inviting his Brexit minister Lord Frost, who was responsible for negotiating the protocol, to join the presidents and prime ministers at the Carbis Bay beach resort.

Downing Street insists that the UK is still working with the EU to find “radical” solutions to trade disruptions between the British mainland and Northern Ireland. The UK accepts that the EU has not breached the terms of Mr Johnson’s protocol, which establishes a customs border in the Irish Sea, but accuses Brussels of implementing it in too “purist” a way.

EU boss’s blunt message for Boris Johnson on sausage wars: ‘Time to deliver’