In the run-up to the G7 summit, Johnson will have uncomfortable discussions with EU leaders.
Boris Johnson will meet with key stakeholders in the European Union on Saturday, as a dispute over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements threatened to derail his hosting of the G7 summit.
In the fringes of the meeting in Cornwall, the Prime Minister will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The leaders will pledge to a new plan targeted at averting a repeat of the Covid-19 outbreak as the primary summit agenda item.
The leaders of the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Japan, France, Germany, and Italy will end the day with a beach BBQ with entertainment from a Cornish sea shanty group and a Red Arrows flyover.
But before that, Mr Johnson has a series of potentially difficult encounters with the EU’s top officials during the summit.
To avoid a restriction on chilled meats crossing the Irish Sea from Great Britain, Downing Street has signaled that the UK might be willing to unilaterally delay full implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
At the end of the month, Northern Ireland will be subject to new restrictions on chilled meats produced in the United Kingdom.
Delaying those inspections without Brussels’ permission risks creating a “sausage war” trade battle, with the EU threatening to retaliate if the Prime Minister’s accord is broken.
Mr Johnson has claimed that the EU’s approach to post-Brexit trading arrangements for Northern Ireland is “excessively burdensome.”
In order to avoid a hard border with Ireland, the protocol effectively retains Northern Ireland in the European single market, resulting in a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods passing from the United Kingdom.
The first objective, according to the Prime Minister’s official spokeswoman, was to find “bold and urgent answers within the protocol.”
“We keep all alternatives on the table,” he continued, implying that a unilateral extension of the present grace period to allow sausages to be shipped across the Irish Sea could be considered.
Expectations were played down by Downing Street. (This is a brief piece.)