SOME EU member states are said to be pushing for the bloc to retaliate if the UK suspends arrangements agreed for Northern Ireland in the Brexit deal.

According to the Financial Times, France, Germany and the Netherlands have been most vocal in demanding EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic begin contingency planning for a potential trade war. The three countries have been supported by Italy and Spain, sources said.

Retaliatory measures being talked about could include limiting the UK’s access to the EU’s energy supplies, bringing in tariffs on Britain’s exports or even suspending the trade agreement altogether.

READ MORE: Northern Ireland Protocol: DUP say EU changes 'fall short'

It comes after Brexit minister Lord Frost said the UK Government may try to suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol by invoking Article 16.

Under the deal agreed between the EU and UK, the Protocol allows Northern Ireland to stay in the single market for goods – preventing a hard border with Ireland.

On Wednesday, the EU tabled a range of proposals aimed at cutting the red tape the protocol has imposed on moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

However, the plan did not address a key UK demand – the removal of the oversight function of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the operation of the protocol.

The National:

Speaking to reporters outside the Commission ahead of lunch discussions with Sefcovic (above), Lord Frost said: “So, I think the EU has definitely made an effort in pushing beyond where they typically go in these areas, and we’re quite encouraged by that, but obviously there is still quite a big gap and that’s what we’ve got to work through today and in the future.”

Responding to claims that the UK is trying to tear up an international treaty, including allegations from former chief Downing Street adviser Dominic Cummings that it was always the intention to ditch the protocol, Lord Frost said the Government knew some elements of the arrangements would “possibly be difficult to make work in practice” and they were always viewed as “a little bit provisional and open to review”.

Rejecting the suggestion that the UK is acting in bad faith, the Brexit minister added: “Obviously the protocol was agreed at a particular moment. We knew that some elements of the protocol would possibly be difficult to make work in practice, and some aspects of it were left open for the discussions in 2020 and afterwards.

“I don’t think it’s surprising that we found that that was the case… the very fact that the protocol has a consent mechanism (in the Stormont Assembly) in it for four years’ time showed we recognised that it might be necessary to renew or otherwise consent for these arrangements.

“In that sense they have always been a little bit provisional and open to review.”

READ MORE: Dominic Cummings: UK Government never planned to stick to its own Brexit deal

The story of potential etaliation was the splash on the Financial Times front page, alongside news that the Energy Minister Kwasi Kwarteng hopes that the UK will have a mild winter, limiting the impact of the energy crisis on the public.

“Some front page,” SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford commented. “The brinkmanship of the UK & its failure to adhere to treaty obligations threatens a trade war with the EU, coupled with Kwasi Kwarteng] pinning his hopes on a wild winter.

"Scotland can do better than this shambles. Join us on our journey to independence,” he added.

DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said he hopes member states are not considering a trade war.

“I don’t know the extent to which this is posturing on the part of some of the EU member states in advance of the negotiations, but bear in mind that the EU has a massive trading surplus with the UK,” he told Times Radio.

“They sell far more goods into our country than we sell to them. We are a market of 60 million, the second largest market in Europe. Are those countries, especially the smaller member states, seriously saying they don’t want to sell us goods any more, that they want a trade war? I would hope that isn’t the case.

“I can’t see how it’s in their interest to do that, and what we need now is to focus on the negotiations.

“We’re not contemplating failure, we want to see success. But we are clear that, if the EU does not step up and be reasonable in reaching an accommodation, then we do expect that the UK Government will take steps to protect the integrity of its own market.”