Frost says UK-EU relations may be PERMANENTLY damaged by NI trade row
8th July 2021

Lord Frost warns Brussels that UK-EU relations may be PERMANENTLY damaged if they cannot come to an agreement to alter Northern Ireland Protocol – as Keir Starmer uses visit to Ulster to accuse PM of having ‘betrayed’ its people over Brexit

  • No10’s hawkish negotiator with the EU said ‘all options remain on the table’
  • Long-term proposals to be put before MPs ahead of summer recess on July 22 
  • Starmer used visit to Belfast to accuse PM of betraying people over Brexit deal

Brexit Minister Lord Frost warned Brussels that the UK’s relationship with the EU could be permanently damaged by the post Brexit row over Northern Ireland. 

The Cabinet minister said today that Government plans to fix the Northern Ireland protocol will be set out its proposals to MPs before the House of Commons rises for the summer recess on July 22.

But Downing Street’s hawkish negotiator with the European Union said ‘all options remain on the table’ to resolve problems over checks on goods entering the province, which shares a land border with the EU. 

Speaking at a Policy Exchange think tank event today, the peer added: ‘The issues about the Protocol are obviously central to the tensions between us, so I don’t think we will ever get this relationship onto a new and constructive footing, where we want it to be, unless we can find a good solution to this problem.’ 

His comments came as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used a visit to Belfast to accuse Boris Johnson of betraying its people over his Brexit deal.

The Cabinet minister said today that Government plans to fix the Northern Ireland protocol will be set out its proposals to MPs before the House of Commons rises for the summer recess on July 22.

His comments came as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer used a visit to Belfast to accuse Boris Johnson of betraying its people over his Brexit deal.

Sir Keir said the Prime minister had ‘not been straight about the consequences’ of the Protocol.

Sir Keir said the Prime minister had ‘not been straight about the consequences’ of the Protocol.

‘He is now pretending it is someone else’s problem, and in Northern Ireland that won’t wash,’ he said.

‘There has to be a practical way forward on this, I think there is a practical way forward if the parties are flexible and negotiate, but the most important thing is trust.

‘There is a positive future here but it does require the British Government to properly understand its role, and I think that this Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, has betrayed the people of Northern Ireland by not properly honouring that (the UK Government being an honest broker), and the words that have been used in pretty well every meeting I have had here in Northern Ireland is a lack of trust in the Prime Minister as an honest broker.’ 

The Northern Ireland Protocol aims at avoiding a hard border on the island by effectively keeping the province in the EU’s single market for goods. 

Tension has mounted over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, particularly for chilled meats, because the province’s open border with EU member Ireland is Britain’s only land frontier with the EU and its vast single market. 

But Unionists have complained the terms are splitting Northern Ireland from Great Britain and hitting the pockets of businesses. 

Last month Boris Johnson unilaterally extended a grace period covering checks on goods, due to expire at the end of June, for three more months. 

Speaking this morning Lord Frost said: ‘We are confident given everything that we’ve been through the last few years that there are ways of finding a new balance and finding the necessary adjustments.

Tension has mounted over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, particularly for chilled meats, because the province’s open border with EU member Ireland is Britain’s only land frontier with the EU and its vast single market.

‘But obviously all options remain on the table for us.

‘We’re considering our next steps, we’re discussing with all those with an interest and I can say today that we will set out our approach to Parliament in a considered way on these questions before the summer recess.’

The Tory peer said the UK would not be delivering an ultimatum to the EU with the plans.

He added: ‘There’s no deadlines here. We’re not putting something on the table and saying take it or leave it, or you must work to this particular timetable through setting our approach out to Parliament.’

Boris Johnson acknowledged on Wednesday that problems over the movement of chilled meats from Britain to Northern Ireland are still ‘far from fixed’ following an agreement to delay the implementation of border checks.

He also acknowledged concerns among Northern Ireland’s Jewish community that they would be unable to access kosher foods unless it is resolved.

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