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Brexit is back with a vengeance

The U.K. and the European Union are embroiled in a fresh stand-off, with Britain calling for the Northern Ireland Protocol -- the crucial agreement on which the whole Brexit deal rests -- to be replaced.

A trade war would be an unwelcome headache for businesses on both sides, which have already been battered by Covid, soaring global energy prices and a supply chain crunch. The EU is the U.K.'s largest trading partner, the destination for 43% of Britain's exports, and the source of 52% of its imports. Companies from both sides would lose market access, and European fishermen would be cut out of U.K. waters. Foto: AP/Alastair Grant

In a major escalation this week, Britain's Brexit minister David Frost called for the scrapping of the sensitive compromise with the EU that was designed to prevent a hard border emerging on the island of Ireland. Under the accord, customs checks are carried out on goods moving between the U.K. and Northern Ireland.

Frost blames the Protocol for disrupting trade and inflaming political unrest in the province. The EU -- which says there is no alternative to the agreement -- is concerned Britain is backsliding on an international treaty. In a move likely to sour relations further, Boris Johnson's former top adviser, Dominic Cummings, said on Wednesday that the U.K. always planned to "ditch" the protocol...

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