Lord Frost ‘has drawn up plans to replace the Northern Ireland Protocol’ as the Tory Brexit chief warns the EU the UK ‘cannot wait forever’ for border check problems to be resolved and signals Britain will tear up rules this year if progress is not made
- Lord Frost has reportedly drawn up plans to replace Northern Ireland Protocol
- The new plans are expected to be handed over to Brussels in the coming days
- Lord Frost warned the EU the UK ‘cannot wait forever’ for NI rules to be improved
- He used speech at Tory conference to signal UK willing to tear up rules this year
Lord Frost today warned the EU that the UK ‘cannot wait forever’ for post-Brexit border checks in Northern Ireland to be improved amid claims he has drawn up a replacement scheme.
The Government’s Brexit chief is said to have finalised proposals to permanently replace the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.
It is thought the plans will be shared with Brussels in the coming days in a move which is likely to worsen tensions with the bloc amid a rumbling row over how to reduce disruption at the border.
Lord Frost delivered a major speech to the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this morning in which he signalled the UK is willing to unilaterally tear up parts of the protocol if the EU refuses to budge on UK demands.
Lord Frost today warned the EU that the UK ‘cannot wait forever’ for post-Brexit border checks in Northern Ireland to be improved amid claims he has drawn up a replacement scheme
It is thought the plans will be shared with Brussels in the coming days in a move which is likely to worsen tensions with the bloc amid a rumbling row over how to reduce disruption at the border. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is pictured in Bosnia on September 30
The Government has repeatedly threatened to trigger Article 16 of the protocol which would allow Britain to unilaterally walk away from some of the rules.
However, such a move would spark a furious response in Brussels and would likely lead to a legal challenge.
The protocol, agreed as part of the Brexit deal, requires checks on goods travelling from GB to Northern Ireland to be carried out at ports in order to avoid the return of a land border with the Republic.
But it has caused disruption to trade and angered unionists who have demanded the rules be scrapped, arguing they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
The UK wants to renegotiate the terms of the protocol but the EU is only willing to make tweaks.
The Telegraph reported that Lord Frost has now drawn up plans to permanently replace the protocol.
He told Tory activists he believes the protocol now risks undermining the Good Friday Agreement and the threshold for triggering Article 16 of the treaty has been met.
He warned that ‘tinkering around the edges’ will not fix the fundamental problems with the protocol.
He urged the EU to be more ‘ambitious’ in its approach so that an agreed solution to the ongoing issues can be found.
Lord Frost said he had set out in July proposals to improve the protocol and he will ‘soon be sending a new set of legal texts to the EU to support them’.
Arguing that ‘significant change’ is needed, he said: ‘If we can agree something better, we can get back to where we wanted to be – an independent Britain with friendly relations with the EU based on free trade.
‘But we cannot wait forever. Without an agreed solution soon, we will need to act, using the Article 16 safeguard mechanism, to address the impact the Protocol is having on Northern Ireland.
‘That may in the end be the only way to protect our country – our people, our trade, our territorial integrity, the peace process, and the benefits of this great UK of which we are all part.’
The Northern Ireland Protocol has caused disruption to trade and angered unionists who have demanded the rules be scrapped, arguing they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK
His comments are likely to be seen as a signal that the UK is willing to trigger the mechanism this year if there is no breakthrough.
Lord Frost also used his speech in Manchester to look ahead to opportunities presented by Brexit, such as new trade deals and a new immigration system.
He said: ‘All history, all experience, shows that democratic countries with free economies, which let people keep more of the money they have earned, make their own decisions, and manage their own lives, are not just richer but also happier and more admired by others.
‘That is where we need to take this country. The opportunities are huge. The long bad dream of our EU membership is over. The British renaissance has begun.’
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