BORIS Johnson has played down a growing Brexit row with the EU over Northern Ireland.

The Prime Minister was heading a press conference as the international summit in Cornwall came to an end this afternoon.

He was probed on Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab’s suggestion that the EU had acted in an “offensive” by refusing to treat Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom, and accusing officials of showing a lack of respect.

His comments came after Emmanuel Macron reportedly suggested Northern Ireland was not part of the UK during his talks with Boris Johnson during the summit. 

READ MORE: EU-UK Brexit Northern Ireland talks had 'no breakthroughs'

Johnson was asked multiple times for his views on the row, which has been growing as negotiations surrounding the Northern Ireland Protocol before the next grace period ends stalled last week.

The Protocol was part of the Brexit deal to prevent goods checks along the Irish land border, instead of creating a border in the Irish sea. With the next grace period due to end on July 1, there are fears products will be stopped moving between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland unless an agreement is struck.

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 EU have previously said that if the UK tries to delay checks they would move “firmly and resolutely” and have not ruled out taking legal action.  

The row grew yesterday after Raab’s comments, and Johnson repeatedly dodged answering questions on the issue.

During the press conference yesterday, the PM said: “Of course we make the point continuously we are part of one great, indivisible United Kingdom.”

READ MORE: EU warns Boris Johnson over Northern Ireland border checks

Asked if he regretted provoking a diplomatic row with France and making the situation worse, he said: “Actually I can tell you the vast majority of the conversations that we’ve had over the last three or four days have been about other subjects and there has been a fantastic degree of harmony between the leaders of our countries.”

The PM added that the G7 leaders had agreed to “build back better for the world” and that was what took up their time during the summit.

Asked again if he was offended by Macron’s alleged remarks, the PM denied that the row was significant.

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He said: “What I’m saying is while we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK but actually what happened at this summit was a colossal amount of work  and subject that had nothing to do with Brexit.”

Probed for a third time on his views, the PM said that Brexit only took up a “vanishingly small proportion of deliberations”. 

President of France Emmanuel Macron was also probed on the trade deal dispute during his own press conference on the summit and said: “I’m doing things very calmly.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon: Northern Ireland protocol offers 'some template' for indy Scotland

“I believe that as far as this subject matter is concerned everybody has got to come back to reason.

“My wish, my will is that we succeed – we succeed collectively – to put into operation what we decided upon a few months ago.”

Earlier, Raab was interviewed on Sky News where he hit out at the European Union. 

He 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.

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“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.”

It comes as the G7 summit leaders, including US President Joe Biden, committed to pledging more than one billion doses of the Covid-19 vaccine either directly or through funding to the Covax initiative. 

They also committed to cut emissions and seek to limit the global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees, pledged to meet net-zero emissions no later than 2050 and conserve or protect at least 30% of land and oceans by 2030.