THE UK Government’s Scotland Secretary has accused the EU of being “entirely unreasonable” in the standoff over the Irish Sea protocol.

Alistair Jack has pointed the finger at European officials for “interpreting the Northern Ireland Protocol in a very purist and stringent way”.

As part of the agreement, the UK agreed that certain products including chilled meats and dairy would face checks from entering Northern Ireland from Scotland, England and Wales – essentially creating a border in the Irish Sea but avoiding a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland to help protect the peace agreement.

The Prime Minister will hold a press conference on Sunday afternoon at the conclusion of a gathering which has seen him clash with European Union leaders.

The six-month grace period for implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement ends at the end of the month – with no resolution agreed so far.

Mr Johnson has threatened to unilaterally delay the imposition of checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea to Northern Ireland in protest at the way in which the deal he agreed is being implemented.

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The Prime Minister met French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel in the margins of the G7 summit on Saturday.

The Prime Minister insisted he would do “whatever it takes” including using Article 16 of the Protocol to act without Brussels’ agreement, which would trigger retaliations from the EU in a dispute which has been dubbed the “sausage war”.

My Johnson’s Scottish Secretary has accused the EU of only strictly enforcing the rules across the Irish Sea but not the English Channel.

Speaking on BBC’s Sunday Show, Mr Jack said “there is a lot of misunderstanding” around the stalemate.

He added: “We believe the EU are interpreting the Northern Ireland Protocol in a very purist and stringent way. I was around the discussions when this was signed up to.

“What we are finding is through a stringent application or interpretation of this, which we don’t agree with, we can’t move sausages from Cairnryan to Belfast.

“If, when this grace period comes to an end, Tesco or any other supermarket could not send their sausages from one part of the United Kingdom to another that is completely wrong and that is the point that was made to Mr Macron and others.”

Mr Jack said: “We can still move sausages from Kent into France and vice-versa – we can move those products across the short straight – so why can’t we move them across the Irish Sea?

“This imposition by the EU is entirely unreasonable. It does not recognise that we are a United Kingdom.”

Mr Macron appeared to anger the UK Government after it was reported that during talks with Mr Johnson, the Prime Minister asked him what he would do if sausages from Toulouse could not be moved to Paris.

The French President reportedly claimed the comparison did not work because Paris and Toulouse were both part of the same country, wrongly suggesting Northern Ireland is not within the UK.

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The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said he was “not going to get drawn into the discussions the Prime Minister had with President Macron”.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said Mr Macron’s assessment of Northern Ireland was “offensive”

Speaking to Sky News, Mr Raab said: “What we cannot have is the continuing disruption of trade and effectively try to change the status of Northern Ireland, contrary to the consent and wishes of the people, which is not just contrary to the Northern Ireland Protocol but also to the Belfast Agreement.

“We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation.

“Could you imagine if we talked about Catalonia, the Flemish part of Belgium, one of the lander in Germany, northern Italy, Corsica in France as different countries? We need a bit of respect here.”

But Labour’s shadow trade secretary, Emily Thornberry, said the UK needs to face up to the fact it signed up to the legally-binding Withdrawal Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol as part of that.

Speaking to Sky News, she said “there are plenty of ways” to resolve the stand-off, adding that “the Government needs to step up and do it”.

The Herald: Emmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson at the G7 summitEmmanuel Macron and Boris Johnson at the G7 summit

Ms Thornberry pointed to the Swiss model as “probably the best one that we should have”, but stressed there were several alternative options.

She added: “We should understand that when we sign up to international agreements that they are legally-binding documents and they need to be taken seriously. We have to find a pragmatic way through this.

“I am not saying that the European Union isn’t being petty. I am not saying that the number of stops on the border are frankly ridiculous, but they are sticking within the letter of the law and we need to find a solution to that.

“We just need to step back, take a deep breath and look beyond sausages, and think what is the policy that needs to be fixed.”