Bitter EU chiefs are said to be drawing up plans to make sure the UK feels the full force of its wrath if Foreign Secretary Liz Truss goes ahead with plans to scrap parts of the hated Brexit deal. Under the plot, Brussels bosses are looking at deliberately targeting “red wall” constituencies with elected Brexiteers where British products are made or where Tories have recently made gains.
In a bid to force Britain’s hand, these constituencies would be hit by tariffs on their exports first, which would spark a tit-for-tat trade row.
One senior EU diplomat admitted the bloc had lost its patience with Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
They told The Daily Telegraph: “Johnson has distracted voters for another month from the cost of living crisis, economic troubles, his stalled migration approach and the lingering Partgate.
“Every time Johnson needs to play to the gallery, he puts Brexit back on the agenda … Why should we be the ones to light it for him as well?”
Reprisals would see the EU target the UK with full force, including duty rises on JCB tractors, Jaguar Land Rover vehicles, Heinz ketchup, Nissan cars and Cadbury chocolate.
Another senior EU diplomat warned: “It is a longstanding practice of the [European] Commission to target its trade defence policy to avoid contingent effects and to support political objectives.”
This is not the first time Brussels has punished a nation in a desperate attempt to force it to U-turn.
The EU whacked crippling trade tariffs on Harley-Davidson motorbike, bourbon whiskey and Levi’s jeans to send a warning to former US President Donald Trump.
Key Republican states were hit, including orange juice from Florida, which was a critical swing state in the US elections.
The source added: “It was part of the conversation with the US and has been on the table multiple times over the past couple of years whenever the UK threatened to blow up the Brexit deal.”
It comes as Katya Adler, the Europe editor for the BBC, warned Northern Ireland protocol negotiations could spark a “messy and painful” trade war between the UK and the EU.
Speaking to Newscast, she said: “I mean, the language is, from both sides, from the UK and the EU, we would like to find a negotiated solution.
“Frankly if they don’t, it’s going to get very messy and painful.
“If the UK goes sort of nuclear, so to speak, and goes for a trade war, that is going to be very painful for the UK which is already discussing this cost of living crisis.”
Ms Truss set out steps on Tuesday to try to break a deadlock with the EU on the Northern Ireland protocol, lining up a new law to unilaterally ease the movement of goods if talks with Brussels fail.
The move further inflamed relations with the EU, including neighbouring Ireland, which said the path chosen by London was of great concern.
Ms Truss has said the legislation would not break international law and that she would publish the government’s legal position soon.