Boris Johnson has been warned by the EU to “implement what we agreed” on post-Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland.
Ahead of the second day of the G7 summit in Carbis Bay and amid a lingering row over the Northern Ireland Protocol, the prime minister held bilateral talks with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Mr Johnson also sat down for discussions with European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel.
The continuing tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol – which have raised the prospect of a sausage trade row between the UK and EU – have threatened to overshadow the gathering of G7 leaders in Cornwall.
After the talks, Ms von der Leyen warned that “both side must implement what we agreed”, adding on Twitter: “There is complete EU unity on this.”
And one source told Reuters that, at this morning’s meeting, Mr Macron said to Mr Johnson there “needed to be a reset
of the Franco-British relationship”.
“This can happen provided that he keeps his word with the Europeans,” the source added.
Ahead of his arrival in Cornwall, Mr Macron had warned that “nothing is negotiable” over the Northern Ireland Protocol – the part of the Brexit deal that prevents a hard border on the island of Ireland.
Prior to Saturday’s meetings, Downing Street again refused to rule out the UK taking unilateral action to protect the export of chilled meat – including sausages and chicken nuggets – from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
It has recently been suggested Mr Johnson could delay the imposition of post-Brexit checks on chilled meats when a current “grace period” expires at the end of this month, a prospect which has led the EU to warn of a possible trade war.
Number 10 said they would “keep all options on the table” but the immediate focus was to “find radical and urgent solutions” within the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Johnson’s Brexit minister Lord Frost – who has angered EU capitals with his recent criticism of what he said was the bloc’s “legal purism” over the Protocol – had been due to attend some of Saturday’s meetings.
On Thursday, in their first face-to-face meeting, Mr Johnson and US President Joe Biden appeared to skirt around the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The prime minister insisted the UK and US were in “complete harmony” over the issue.
This was despite reports the UK had recently received a “demarche” – a formal diplomatic protest – from the US over the dispute.
Downing Street said that the Northern Ireland Protocol was not raised during discussions between Mr Johnson and Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi on Thursday.