Boris Johnson on Brexit trade deal 'teething problems'
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The Prime Minister last night defended the UK’s decision to unilaterally extend some of the grace periods for trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. At a Downing Street press conference, he said the extensions were temporary but necessary to ensure there were no delays in shipments across the Irish Sea.
Mr Johnson said: “There have been teething problems, and there is no question that there have been.
“We’re fixing those now with some temporary, technical things that we’re doing to smooth the flow which, I think, are very, very sensible.
“I’m sure that it can all be ironed out and sorted out.”
The EU has reacted with anger at the decision to unilaterally delay the introduction of some light-touch regulation that was due to come into place at the start of April until the autumn.
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But the Prime Minister said Lord Frost would ease the concerns of Brussels in negotiations.
He said the talks could smooth over the tensions “with goodwill and with imagination, and that’s what we intend to bring”.
Checks on shipments of goods to supermarkets and other retailers, which were set to require export health certificates for all animal products, are among those which have been postponed.
Mr Johnson said despite some of the early difficulties in trade, he was confident his agreement with the EU would see Britain flourish.
He told the press conference: “I think it is a great deal because it enables us not just to have free trade with the EU, but also to do what we wanted to do, which is to do things differently where we think that might be a good idea.
“In the last few months you’ve seen the examples of that – whether it is in the vaccination rollout programme or in the free trade agreements that we have been able to strike or the free ports that we announced in the Budget – we’re doing other forms of regulation differently.
“I think that it is great to get those two things working together – that’s the free trade agreement plus the ability to do things differently and in our own way.”
The Prime Minister added there was no reason for friction in trade if “common sense begins to prevail”.
His comments come after Lord Frost, who negotiated the Brexit trade agreement and now oversees the UK’s relationship with the EU, called on Brussels to “shake off any remaining ill will” over Britain’s decision to leave the bloc.
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“With Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, our agenda is one of an outward-looking country, confident we can work with others towards common goals,” he wrote in the Sunday Telegraph.
“That is our hope for our ties with our European friends and allies, too.
“I hope they will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals.”
European Commission spokesman Eric Mamer rejected the characterisation from Lord Frost yesterday.
He told journalists: “We never sulk. We don’t have moods.
“We are an institution, so we try to work on a day-to-day basis with a very, very even temper.”
Brussels has threatened legal action over the UK’s decision to extend the grace periods.
It accuses the Government of breaking international law by failing to honour the commitments in the Northern Ireland Protocol.
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