UK ‘may suspend Northern Ireland protocol’: Britain is prepared to unilaterally halt agreement with EU, Brexit minister warns… as Government is set to confirm delaying import checks until NEXT YEAR
- Lord Frost said EU should take UK’s proposal to renegotiate NI Protocol seriously
- Government will confirm it is going to delay the introduction of import checks
- Remarks suggest tensions between the UK and EU are once again ratcheting up
Britain is prepared to unilaterally suspend a trading agreement with the EU, Brexit minister Lord Frost warned last night.
He told the House of Lords the EU should take the UK’s proposals to renegotiate part of the Northern Ireland Protocol ‘seriously’ if it wanted to prevent the Stormont Executive collapsing.
The former chief Brexit negotiator said he had set out the tests the UK would apply to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, which allows either side to suspend the agreement if it is deemed to be having a significant impact on everyday life.
The former chief Brexit negotiator said he had set out the tests the UK would apply to trigger Article 16
‘I urge the EU to take this seriously,’ Lord Frost told peers. ‘They would be making a significant mistake if they thought we were not ready to use Article 16 safeguards if that is our only choice to deal with the situation in front of us. If we are to avoid Article 16, there must be a real negotiation between us and the EU.’
The Government will confirm today that it is going to delay the introduction of import checks on goods from the EU until next year to avoid shortages in the run-up to Christmas.
Lord Frost was speaking days after his Brussels counterpart, Maros Sefcovic, joint head of the EU-UK partnership council, told Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party to ‘dial down the rhetoric’ after it threatened to walk out of the Stormont Assembly if there is no change on the protocol within weeks.
Following a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, the European Commission vice-president said that a renegotiation of the protocol would lead to more instability for businesses and communities.
Lord Frost’s remarks suggest that tensions between the UK and EU are once again ratcheting up.
‘I was concerned by some of the comments we have heard from commission representatives in recent days which seem to suggest they may be considering this way forward [the take it or leave it approach],’ he said.
‘If so, then with as much seriousness as I can, my Lords, I urge them to think again and consider instead working to reach genuine agreement with us so that we can put in place something that can last.
Lord Frost’s remarks suggest that tensions between the UK and EU are once again ratcheting up
‘Those negotiations need to begin seriously and they need to begin soon.’
Last week the DUP, which is fighting to hold on to votes in Northern Ireland, issued an ultimatum to the EU, saying that it would walk out of the Stormont Assembly if there was no change on the protocol within weeks.
Days earlier, the UK had announced it was unilaterally extending a grace period for checks on chilled meats including sausages.
Mr Sefcovic told reporters last week that the EU had responded calmly and had opted not to launch legal action in order to create space for dialogue.
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