Boris Johnson will come under fresh pressure from EU leaders in Cornwall on Saturday in the increasingly bitter standoff over the implementation of the Northern Ireland protocol.
The prime minister had hoped to skirt the subject of Brexit as he hosts G7 leaders. But his official spokesperson conceded on Friday that Downing Street expect it to be raised, as Johnson holds face-to-face meetings on Saturday, including with the EU Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, and the Council president, Charles Michel.
“It’s fair to say it may well come up,” Johnson’s spokesperson said.
Von Der Leyen and Michel are expected to stress the serious potential consequences of failing to find a resolution in the coming days, putting the onus on the UK to compromise.
But Johnson’s spokesperson said he in turn would want to convey the “challenges”, the protocol is bringing to the people of Northern Ireland, and “the risks it poses to the agreement in the current form, and the need to find urgent solutions”.
The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, also struck a defiant tone on Friday, accusing the EU of being unnecessarily rigid in the way it is interpreting the agreement, which the UK signed up to.