G7: Brexit talks will 'overshadow summit' says expert

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Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, has joined leaders for a monumental summit in Carbis Bay, Cornwall this week to discuss a number of global issues. Also in attendance at the summit is Prime Minister Boris Johnson, US President Joe Biden, French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, along with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council head Charles Michel.

Why is Brexit an issue at the G7 summit?

A number of topics have been up for discussion among leaders this week at the G7 summit, including global Covid vaccine rollout and climate change.

But the topic of Brexit is another of the biggest issues looming large over the summit.

The ongoing row between the European Union and the UK over the Northern Ireland Protocol is a major issue for EU and UK leaders.

But other world leaders have also taken an interest, particularly US President Joe Biden.

The White House has warned against anything which could disrupt the Good Friday Agreement, and the terms of the 1998 agreement stressed the need for an open border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

At the time of the talks, US president Bill Clinton had a major role in the peace process.

The Northern Ireland Protocol agreed by both sides is a crucial aspect of the Brexit deal, which prevents checks along the Irish border.

However, some have argued the Protocol has allowed an Irish Sea border to be implemented instead.

Although Northern Ireland is no longer part of the EU, it was agreed under the Protocol that it would continue to follow a number of EU rules.

Checks on goods now need to be carried out when the goods enter Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK.

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What have world leaders said about Brexit?

While Canada appears to have waded into the discussions and acknowledged the ongoing issues of the Northern Ireland Protocol, Canadian leaders have also made clear this an issue for the UK to resolve.

Politico reported that in their meeting on Friday, Justin Trudeau signalled to Boris Johnson “that we are very aware of the issue,” Ralph Goodale, Canadian high commissioner to the UK said.

Mr Goodale added: “The Good Friday Agreement is obviously important from Canada’s point of view.

“We know how complex those border issues are with respect to Ireland and Northern Ireland.

“We don’t underestimate the difficulty of finding a satisfactory resolution, but simply to signal we’re aware of it.”

A Number 10 official told Politico: “The prime minister and prime minister Trudeau agreed on the importance of upholding the Good Friday Agreement.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol was also part of discussions with Mr Johnson and Mr Biden earlier this week, after which Mr Johnson said the UK, US and EU had “complete harmony” on finding a solution to the problems.

He said: “America, the United States, Washington, the UK, plus the European Union have one thing we absolutely all want to do.

“And that is to uphold the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, and make sure we keep the balance of the peace process going. That is absolutely common ground.”

The topic of the Northern Ireland Protocol is also likely to come up in discussions between the Prime Minister and Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday.

The prevalence of the Northern Ireland Protocol in G7 discussions may be a source of annoyance for Boris Johnson, who wants the summit to focus on a number of global issues.

Mr Johnson has also remained firm on the issue of trade with Northern Ireland, and has asked the EU to be more flexible and help to prevent the disruption of the flow of goods to Northern Ireland.

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