Boris Johnson's plans to unilaterally scrap parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol are "politically driven" and "very damaging" to EU-UK relations, the European Commission vice-president has said.

Maroš Šefčovič has said the European Union was not "here for political point scoring" after the bloc launched fresh legal action against the UK in retaliation over the Prime Minister's just laid Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which will effectively scrap key parts of the deal signed by Mr Johnson and the EU in 2019.

Mr Šefčovič told Beth Rigby on Sky News that he cannot "resist the impression that the tabling of the Bill is politically driven", adding that it is not the EU's role to comment on internal politics in the UK and therefore "our doors for the negotiations will always be open."

"We are here for the results, not political point scoring... We are in a fixing business, but I am afraid to say what was tabled on Monday is very much nixing," he said.

"It is very much ripping up the protocol and I don't think that is good for anyone."

In the deal, both sides agreed to put checks on goods, plant and animal products crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss with Maroš Šefčovič (File photo)

The UK has insisted that its unilateral approach is the only option left to resolve the issues "baked in" to the protocol, if the EU maintains its refusal to fundamentally rewrite the terms of the deal.

The European Commission vice-president said Brexit difficulties were bleeding into other areas of co-operation.

While he praised "remarkable" EU-UK co-operation on Ukraine and other global challenges, he said it was a "pity that we have to spend so much time" discussing Brexit issues "when we need to build and consolidate this western unity".

Read more: Your questions answered: The Northern Ireland Protocol

Mr Šefčovič added: "What is indeed very damaging for our relationship is this constant breaching of the international law, and that's something what we've been not used to from the UK."

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

Mr Šefčovič declined to rule out a trade war, saying: "We have to keep all options on the table."

But he emphasised the EU's preference to find a negotiated resolution to the problems caused by the protocol, lamenting the "radio silence from London since February".

He added: "We would very much appreciate... more of a political will to work on these issues jointly."

Asked if the issue can be resolved, he said he would "hope for the best, be prepared for the worst".