Sausage wars: Boris Johnson hints he may rip up EU rule book over trade with Northern Ireland

Boris Johnson will hold meetings with four European leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall on Saturday - Jonny Weeks / WPA Pool / Getty Images
Boris Johnson warned on Friday evening that he was ready to unilaterally violate the Northern Ireland Protocol to keep the flow of meat imports going ahead of talks with European Union leaders on Saturday.
The prime minister's official spokesman said "all options are on the table" when asked if he would waive controls on such imports if an agreement is not reached by the end of this month.
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This would violate the provisions of the Northern Ireland Protocol, signed in December, which seeks to avoid controls at the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Mr Johnson will meet four European leaders at the G7 summit in Cornwall on Saturday, creating tensions over the impact of Brexit on the island of Ireland.
He will meet Emmanuel Macron, the French President, around 8 a.m., followed by Angela Merkel, the German Chancellor, and then a joint meeting with Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, and Charles Michel, President of the European Council .
Lord Frost, the UK government minister in charge of Brexit matters, has traveled to Cornwall and will attend the meetings to counter the EU's arguments. He is expected to tell EU leaders that they will undermine peace in Northern Ireland if they refuse to negotiate a new agreement on customs controls.
A Whitehall source on post-Brexit politics said "The Northern Ireland Protocol must operate in a proportionate manner that does not disrupt life in Northern Ireland and undermine the peace process".
Mr Macron, who was the most vocal of the G7 leaders in Northern Ireland, appeared to be issuing veiled warnings when he arrived in Cornwall on Friday.
In a tweet he posted a photo of himself with EU leaders in Cornwall and wrote: “Same union as always, same determination to act, same enthusiasm! The G7 can begin. "
At some point he was seen in a conversation with Joe Biden, the US President, who EU leaders hope will intervene on their side to resolve the tensions over Brexit.
At the heart of the clash is the protocol calling for customs controls on goods traveling from the UK to Northern Ireland in order to keep the land border on the island of Ireland open.
The UK wants the EU to be more flexible as it fears that controls will undermine the UK's integrity. Brussels wants to stick to the original agreement when negotiating longer-term solutions.
At a press conference on Friday, Mr Johnson's official spokesman downplayed the chance of a breakthrough at Saturday's meetings. A grace period allowing chilled meat - including sausage and ground beef - to cross the Irish Sea from the UK is due to expire at the end of the month
The spokesman said the hope is to find "radical and urgent solutions within the protocol" but added that such reviews will not be carried out: "We keep all options on the table".
Meanwhile, Michael Gove, the cabinet minister formally responsible for Brexit issues, said he believed "pragmatic figures" within the EU are ready to work with the government to resolve the difficulties created by the protocol.
Mr. Gove said, “Sometimes when people look at the log they think it is all or nothing. We have solved some of the existing challenges, but there are other challenges that need to be addressed effectively.
"I believe that there are pragmatic figures in the European Union willing to make these arrangements work so that they do not adversely affect the lives of people in the communities in Northern Ireland."

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