Boris Johnson is due to travel to Belfast on Monday for crisis talks with the political parties amid continuing political deadlock over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
EU leaders have warned of retaliatory measures if the UK acts unilaterally to suspend or change the agreement, which governs post-Brexit trading arrangements, in the face of Unionist opposition.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney insisted the EU did not want a trade war at a time of heightened tensions, but said there would be a “consequence” if the UK abandoned its international treaty obligations.
However, Mr Kwarteng said that under Article 16 of the protocol – which forms part of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement with the EU – the Government was entitled to act unilaterally to protect political stability.
“There has been a lot of talk, a lot of threats, about what the EU will or won’t do. That is up to them,” he told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme.
“As far as I am concerned, our primary duty as the British government is to look after political stability in Northern Ireland. If that means relooking at the protocol, we absolutely have to do that.
“I think this talk of a trade war is irresponsible and I think it is completely getting ahead of ourselves.
“It is up to the EU. We think it would be completely self-defeating if they went into a trade war, but that is up to them.”
Source Link Kwarteng dismisses ‘irresponsible’ threats of trade war with Brussels