BORIS Johnson last night said he wants to “fix” not “nix” the Brexit deal – as Brussels threatened to start a trade war with the UK.
Ministers warned stubborn EU leaders they must agree to ditch their hated border checks or the UK will be forced to make its own unilateral changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said she has no choice but to act to break the deadlock in NI and get Stormont back up and running.
She will table new legislation within weeks to overhaul the Brexit deal by scrapping the hated border checks in the Irish Sea.
This will be done by creating a new ‘green lane’ with no check for goods flowing between GB and NI.
A separate ‘red lane’ will be created for goods going to the Republic of Ireland. These will be checked.
Anyone flouting the system will be punished.
Ms Truss told Parliament: “The Belfast Good Friday Agreement is under strain and regrettably the Northern Ireland Executive has not been fully functioning since early February.
“This is because the Northern Ireland protocol does not have the support necessary in one party of the community in Northern Ireland.
“Companies are facing significant costs and paperwork. Some businesses have stopped trade altogether.”
Downing Street said talks will carry on in “parallel” with the EU. Legislation can be shelved if there is a breakthrough.
Despite the UK saying it wanted to work with the EU, Brussels responded with fury.
The PM said: “It makes it very clear on the face of the text that we should ensure the east-west trade and the integrity of the UK internal market.
“So let’s fix it. We don’t want to nix it, we want to fix it, and we will work our hardest to do it.”
Furious EU chief Maros Sefcovic said the bloc will hit back using “all measures at its disposal” – ramping up fears of a trade war.
Maros Sefcovic, the Vice President of the European Commission, said that if the UK goes ahead with unilateral action then the EU “will need to respond with all measures at its disposal”.
The comments were seen as a threat to hit the UK with retaliatory trade tariffs.
Ireland’s foreign minister Simon Coveney said the move “is damaging to trust and will serve only to make it more challenging to find solutions”.
It came as long-promised plans to spare British troops from vexatious prosecutions for serving during The Troubles were presented to the Commons.
The law grants a time limit on prosecutions.
But IRA terrorists will have to confess their secrets and help victims’ families find bodies to qualify for the amnesty.