Brexit minister repeats threat to pull plug on Northern Ireland deal after EU shrug

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Lord Frost has reiterated his threat to pull the plug on Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, following a vague EU response to his previous warnings.

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Speaking at the Conservative Party convention in Manchester, the Brexit minister said the deal he negotiated had “began to fall apart” and needed to be changed.

He warned again that the UK government could invoke Article 16 of the deal, an emergency clause that would suspend the deal.


“We cannot wait forever. Without an agreed solution soon, we will need to act using Article 16 safeguards to address the impact of the Protocol on Northern Ireland,” he told the Tory loyalist.

“In the end it may be the only way to protect our country – our people, our business, our territorial integrity, the peace process, and the benefits of this great UK of which we are all a part.”

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Northern Ireland has faced a shortage of imported goods from the rest of Britain due to the new friction for trade added by Lord Frost’s agreement.

The situation has also fueled community tensions, with protests from some loyalists and threats against port workers.

But the European Union has said it will not return to the negotiating table after the issue of Brexit was over.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefkovic said in July: “We will not agree to renegotiate the protocol. Respecting international legal obligations is paramount.” The EU’s stance on this issue has yet to change.

When Lord Frost and Boris Johnson originally negotiated a Brexit deal, the pair publicly saw it as a huge success. The Conservatives went to the 2019 election and claimed no Brexit talks and an “oven-ready” deal.

But Lord Frost used his speech at the Tory convention to claim otherwise, blaming the preachers for making his job difficult.

“Of course we wanted to negotiate something better. If it weren’t for the madness of the Surrender Act, we might have done it. And we worried from the start that the protocol wouldn’t take tension if not handled sensitively.” he said.


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