EU-UK’S ‘SAUSAGE WAR’ MARS G7 MEET AS MACRON, JOHNSON BICKER
Growing tensions between Britain and the European Union (EU) threatened to overshadow the Group of Seven summit's conclusion on Sunday, with London accusing France of "offensive" remarks that Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom, Michael Rose and Michael Holden reported for Reuters.
Ever since the UK voted to leave the EU in 206, the two sides have been trying to work out how to deal with post-Brexit trade and the British province, which has a land border with EU member Ireland.
Ultimately, the talks keep coming back to the delicate patchwork of history, nationalism, religion and geography that intertwine in Northern Ireland, but the latest spat over the Brexit divorce deal is centered on sausages.
But Johnson has already delayed the implementation of some of its provisions, including checks on chilled meats moving from the mainland to Northern Ireland, saying it was causing disruption to some supplies to the province.
During talks with Emmanuel Macron at the G7 summit, British Prime Minister Johnson queried how the French president would react if Toulouse sausages could not be sold in Paris markets, echoing London's accusation that the EU is preventing sales of British chilled meats in Northern Ireland.
British media reported that Macron responded by inaccurately saying Northern Ireland was not part of the United Kingdom, remarks British foreign minister Dominic Raab described as "offensive."
"Various EU figures here in Carbis Bay, but frankly for months now and years, have characterized Northern Ireland as somehow a separate country and that is wrong," Raab said.
"It is a failure to understand the facts. We wouldn't talk about Catalonia and Barcelona, or Corsica in France in those ways," he told the BBC's Andrew Marr program.
A French diplomatic source said Macron had been taken aback by Johnson bringing up sausages - which the British leader had said was a crucial issue but one the French regarded as a distraction from the main business at the G7 leaders' gathering.
The president had merely been pointing out the sausage comparison was invalid due to the geographic differences, the source said.