UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson has been accused of a “petty” approach after refusing to grant full diplomatic status to the European Union’s ambassador to the UK.
Joao Vale de Almeida has not been given the same status as other ambassadors, with the UK Foreign Office declining to treat an international organisation in the same way as nation-states.
Mr de Almeida is the EU’s first ambassador in London after Brexit meant the UK is now outside the bloc.
Senior Tory Tobias Ellwood described the row as a “silly spat” and insisted the UK should be “better than this”.
Mr Ellwood, chairman of the Commons Defence Committee, said, “This is simply petty.
“Biden commits to strengthening alliances and we engage in silly spats which will not help strengthen security and trade cooperation.
“We are better than this.”
David Lidington, who was effectively deputy prime minister under Theresa May, said he hoped the Foreign Office “doesn’t pick a fight on this”, warning that non-recognition could set a “bad precedent” for regimes that hate EU ambassadors speaking up in support of human rights.
Tory peer Gavin Barwell, who was Mrs May’s chief of staff, said the move was “difficult to understand” and “the UK treating EU diplomats differently than every other independent sovereign state does suggests there is something different about our relationship with the EU”.
“Strange position for Brexiteers to take,” he added.
European Commission spokesman, Peter Stano said the UK, which, as a member of the EU, was a signature to the Lisbon Treaty which established the European External Action Service diplomatic network, was “well aware of the EU’s status in external relations”.
“Nothing has changed since the UK’s exit from the European Union to justify any change in stance on the UK’s part,” he said.
“The EU’s status in external relations and its subsequent diplomatic status is amply recognised by countries and international organisations around the world, and we expect the United Kingdom to treat the EU Delegation accordingly and without delay.”
He said granting reciprocal treatment based on the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations is “standard practice” between equal partners and we are
Mr Stano added: “The European Union has 143 Delegations, equivalent to diplomatic missions, around the world.
“Without exception, all host states have accepted to grant these delegations and their staff a status equivalent to that of diplomatic missions of states under the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations, and the UK is well aware of this fact.”
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