The European Union has launched new legal action against the UK in retaliation for Boris Johnson’s plan to unilaterally scrap parts of the Brexit deal with Northern Ireland. European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic said the UK’s decision had “no legal or political justification”. But Sky News political editor Beth Rigby erupted at European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic over the “empty threat”.

Speaking to Beth Rigby Interview, Mr Sefcovic said: “We have built our new post-Brexit relationship on a very clear foundation.

“The first was the Ireland and Northern Ireland protocol agreement part.

“If you remove the rack from under this construction, of course we have a fundamental problem with the whole architecture and therefore we cannot rule anything out.”

Ms Rigby added: “So you can’t rule out a trade war?

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“If you’re Boris Johnson in London listening to this, you think a trade war could happen three years from now,” that is, after the next general election.

“Politically it makes no sense as it is an empty threat at this stage of the negotiations.”

Mr Sefcovic continued: “We are not in the business of threats.

“From the moment we started negotiating the Withdrawal Agreement, we were the only party to bring constructive ideas to the table.

“We have done this over the last year despite many unilateral actions taken by the UK and we are doing it now.”

As well as a new legal action over alleged failures to implement the Northern Ireland Protocol as it stands, Mr Sefcovic confirmed that existing infringement proceedings which had been put on hold while talks between the UK and the EU were taking place would now be resumed.

And he indicated that further action could follow if the UK goes ahead with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would effectively tear up key parts of the agreement Mr Johnson and the EU signed in 2019.

At a press conference in Brussels, Mr Sefcovic said the British government had decided to “unilaterally violate international law”.

The plan would mean “breaking an agreement which protects peace and stability in Northern Ireland, an agreement reached together only three years ago”.

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Mr. Sefcovic said: “Let there be no doubt: there is no legal or political justification for unilaterally changing an international agreement.

“Opening the door to the unilateral modification of an international agreement is also a violation of international law.

“So let’s call a spade a spade: it’s illegal.”

The dispute could ultimately lead to a trade war, with tariffs or even the suspension of the entire Brexit deal between the UK and the European Union.