A Brexit backlash overshadowed the end of the G7 summit — with French president Emmanuel Macron branded ‘offensive’ and told to show ‘a bit of respect’ by foreign secretary Dominic Raab in a sizzling row over sausages.
As delegates headed home praising climate deals and a pledge of more than 1billion Covid vaccine doses to developing countries, Mr Macron caused a storm by suggesting Northern Ireland was not part of the UK.
The EU insists chilled meats such as bangers must be banned from crossing the Irish sea from the mainland when a withdrawal deal grace period on food safety checks ends in a fortnight.
Boris Johnson reportedly asked Mr Macron: ‘How would you like it if French courts stopped you moving Toulouse sausages to Paris?’
Mr Macron told the prime minister it was ‘not a good comparison because Paris and Toulouse are part of the same country’.
Furious foreign secretary Dominic Raab told Sky News: ‘We’ve serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It’s not only offensive, it has real world effects on communities in Northern Ireland. It creates great concern.
‘Imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, the Lander (regional states) in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries? We need a bit of respect here.’
And he told Times Radio: ‘That kind of approach speaks volumes. It’s one of the reasons we have the problems we do with the Northern Ireland protocol, because there isn’t a proper appreciation and there’s been a lopsided approach.’
Mr Johnson refused three times to comment on the row at his post-summit news conference, pointedly describing the country as ‘one great, indivisible United Kingdom’, and insisting: ‘We will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK.’
He added: ‘Actually what happened at this summit was a colossal amount of work on subjects that have absolutely nothing to do with Brexit.
‘The vast, vast majority of conversations we had over the last three or four days have been about other subjects and there has been a fantastic degree of harmony between the leaders of our countries.’
Mr Macron’s office later said he meant ‘Toulouse and Paris were on a geographical unity of territory, Northern Ireland is on an island’.
It added: ‘The president wanted to stress that the situation was quite different and that it’s not appropriate to hold that kind of comparison.’
The row marred the UK-hosted gathering of world leaders in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, including Joe Biden in his first overseas trip as US president.
As well as the vaccine pledge and plans to fight future pandemics, they committed to cut emissions, limit the rise in global temperatures to 1.5C and conserve or protect at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030.
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