EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic, who is representing the EU in negotiations, said the bloc would not work with “blackmail”. Despite this, a “person familiar with the matter” last week told Bloomberg Brussels would likely suspend its trade agreement with the UK if the Government revokes its commitments over the Protocol.
The bloc could also halt separate post-Brexit talks on the status of Gibraltar.
The Tory peer insisted these threatened measures were not intended to prevent Whitehall from acting in a way that could harm the EU.
Instead, it demonstrated the bloc’s “determination to treat Britain as a wayward province rather than an ally”.
Brexiteers are concerned by the rule that goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland (that is, from one part of the UK to another) must undergo checks, among others.
Lord Hannan wrote in the Telegraph that this posed no “real danger” to unity in the West and could be conducted “carefully”.
But the EU, he added, was acting in a “peevish spirit”, even at the risk of damaging itself.
The Brexiteer added in a post on Twitter the Government has every right to take action on the Protocol and that this would not damage Brussels.
He wrote: “The Protocol allows for unilateral action if there is trade diversion – which there plainly is.
READ MORE: Voters say more concerned by living costs than ‘Partygate’ row
Former Tory MP David Bannerman stressed this made it clear Article 16 must be invoked “now”.
He responded to Lord Hannan’s article noting the “UK has been conciliatory when EU has already sought to ‘punish’ the UK through a number of measures such as not offering reconciliation on financial services”.
Former Brexit Minister Lord Frost said the Government must show “the same determination in Northern Ireland” as it has in Ukraine if progress is to be made.
While critics insist the triggering of Article 16 would not result in too much disruption for Brussels, Lord Frost stressed “there is an imminent threat to our ability to govern Northern Ireland”.
Failing to reach a breakthrough in talks, or to end negotiations altogether by rejecting the terms of the Protocol would, he added, damage Whitehall’s ability to “protect its people’s economic, trading and security interests”.
The Prime Minister is in Northern Ireland today, on May 16, in a bid to restart talks.