Brexit LIVE: Coveney rages at Boris plot to break international law with ‘radical changes’

Bernard Jenkin grilled on Northern Ireland Protocol by McCoy

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The Northern Ireland Protocol – agreed in the Brexit deal – is designed to avoid customs checks along the Irish border. Earlier this month, the European Commission said it was ready to “suspend” parts of the Brexit trade deal unless the UK ended its refusal to implement the Protocol.

But this week, Mr Johnson’s spokesperson said “radical changes” are needed to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

He said: “That’s what’s necessary to mitigate the serious, real-world challenges being faced by businesses and the people of Northern Ireland.”

However, Simon Coveney, Ireland’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, warned these “radical changes” to international law would create a “problem”.

Mr Coveney said: “If looking for radical change means that you’re not committed to the protocol that’s a problem.

“The challenge for us is within the parameters of the protocol, how we maximise the flexibility that’s available to us to reduce the impact of the protocol to the maximum extent possible in terms of the disruptive impact on goods coming from GB to Northern Ireland.”

He insisted there are “very significant benefits linked to Northern Ireland having completely unfettered access to the EU single market and unfettered access to GB as well”.

During a summit of EU leaders, Ireland’s Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the EU should agree to extend a grace period.

He said: “This would be I think, in my view, an important signal in terms of the European Union’s willingness to continue to be constructive.

“The Commission is obviously considering this now.

“The UK made a request in my view which would be granted.

“This would be the correct thing to do and it would be the right thing to do.

“And I think we need space in the context of Northern Ireland, in particular, to settle things down.”


8am update: Leave campaigners ‘surprised by deterioration in relations between the EU and UK, says Lord Frost

The Government has admitted those who campaigned to leave the European Union are “surprised” with the deterioration in relations between the bloc and Britain.

Brexit minister, David Frost, said it is not “part of the plan to be bickering with the EU” and said he hopes it is not “part of their long term plan either”. His comments come amid the ongoing Northern Ireland ‘sausage war’.

Lord Frost told thinktank UK in a Changing Europe: “Until we have settled the Northern Ireland issue and put in place new balances, or the right balance, I think it’s going to be difficult to get relations on to the right footing that we want, but we absolutely do want that.

“I don’t think those who campaigned five years ago for Brexit drove the analysis, drove the politics of it.

“I think they are surprised, quite often, to find relations are in the state they’re in.”

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