Brexit sausage border deadline looms as EU-UK crunch talks end without agreement

Boris Johnson at a North Yorkshire sausage factory during the Tory leadership campaign (Image: PA)

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Northern Ireland could face a ban on British sausages and chicken nuggets in just 21 days after crunch Brexit talks ended without agreement.

Four hours of negotiations in London ended in a bitter stalemate today despite a bid to resolve splits over trade with Northern Ireland.

UK sources today threatened to extend the current rules on meat trade without the EU's permission – leading the EU to threaten tariffs in return.

Since Brexit, UK farmers have been banned from sending "chilled meat preparations" like sausages and chicken nuggets to the EU.

The ban is a blanket EU rule that applies to chilled meat preparations being imported from any non-EU country.

But now the clock is ticking on trade from Britain to Northern Ireland too – despite Belfast being within the UK’s borders.

Boris Johnson had tried to downplay sausage fears – but they're meatier than he suggested

Sausages are allowed to be sent West across the Irish Sea but only for a six month grace period, which expires on June 30.

And the UK signed a “unilateral declaration” last year, accepting they’d be blocked from July 1.

This is under the terms of Boris Johnson's own Brexit deal, which he signed in 2019 and claimed was "oven-ready", because it rules Northern Ireland must follow EU rules in some areas to avoid a border with the Republic.

But ministers have since heaped blame on the EU – and the UK today warned it would consider “all options” to keep chilled meats flowing to Northern Ireland.

That could involve unilaterally extending the six-month grace period without the EU’s permission – a move EU officials have warned would lead to swift retaliation.

The UK today insisted it had made a suggestion on resolving the row which “recognises the high standards” of both the UK and EU on meat.

But the UK said “substantive progress has not yet been made”.

The row is tied to many more issues than meat and has sparked unrest in Northern Ireland
(Image: PA)

The UK statement added: “There is an urgent need for further discussions in order to make real progress, particularly to avoid disruption to critical supplies such as medicines.

“The UK will continue to work actively to find solutions. If solutions cannot be found, the Government will of course continue to consider all options available for safeguarding peace, prosperity and stability in Northern Ireland.”

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