Lord Frost accuses EU of using Northern Ireland to try to reverse referendum result
Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, has promised “very far-reaching” changes to address the movement of goods across the Irish Sea. Reports suggest his plan will offer to lift half of customs checks on goods and more than half of checks on meat and plant products.
It comes the day after Lord Frost accused Brussels of being “disrespectful” to the UK by enforcing the deal he and Boris Johnson negotiated, leading the pro-EU Liberal Democrats to describe his approach as “a badly written farce”.
Lord Frost said in a speech in Lisbon yesterday: “For the EU now to say that the protocol – drawn up in extreme haste in a time of great uncertainty – can never be improved upon, when it is so self-evidently causing such significant problems, would be a historic misjudgement.”
Lord Frost risks inflaming tensions as he calls on EU to revise Brexit agreement
The UK government is on course for a diplomatic collision with Brussels as Brexit minister Lord Frost warned it would be a “historic misjudgement” for the bloc not to rewrite key parts of the agreement, write Jon Stone and Ashley Cowburn.
Accusing the EU of being “disrespectful” to Britain, Lord Frost demanded leaders effectively tear up the Northern Ireland protocol he negotiated alongside Boris Johnson just two years ago and replace it with a new treaty.
Delivering a speech in Lisbon, he risked inflaming tensions, claiming the bloc was attempting to “encourage UK political forces to reverse the referendum result or least keep us closely aligned with the EU”.
Jon Sharman13 October 2021 07:50
EU to announce new Northern Ireland protocol plan
Brussels will announce a new approach to the Northern Ireland protocol today in a bid to break the Brexit deadlock.
Britain has been chafing at the provisions of the protocol, which it agreed to, and has threatened to unilaterally suspend its adherence to the deal which it now describes as too restrictive.
Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission vice-president, has pledged “very far-reaching” changes and reports suggest he will offer to slash checks on goods by half.
Weeks of negotiations are expected as officials thrash out a new deal.
Mr Sefcovic has also pledged to offer more of a chance for politicians and civic society in Northern Ireland to weigh in on how the contentious trading arrangements operate.
While these changes may help reduce everyday friction on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, they are unlikely to satisfy a UK government demand that the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ oversight function in relation to the protocol be removed.
Under the terms of the deal struck by the UK and EU in 2019, the ECJ would be the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two parties on the operation of the protocol.
The UK now wants to drop that provision and replace it with an independent arbitration process. Mr Sefcovic has insisted that the EU will not budge on the ECJ issue.
He has pointed out that Northern Ireland would be unable to retain single market access – a key provision of the protocol – if the arrangement was not subject to oversight by European judges.
Additional reporting by PA Media
Jon Sharman13 October 2021 07:46