Lord Frost slams ‘problematic’ Northern Ireland Protocol after two-day trip to Ulster

Brexit: Lord Frost hits out at EU over Northern Ireland Protocol

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Lord Frost of Allenton, 56, concluded his two-day trip to Ulster with a five-part social media update on the Northern Ireland Protocol. During his update, the ex-CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association said while there is still time for Brexit Britain and the European Union to come to an agreement, Article 16 remains an option for the UK Government.

Posting on Twitter, a platform the ex-UK Ambassador to Denmark has 58,000 followers on, Lord Frost said: “I had a great two days in Northern Ireland meeting with community groups, political leaders and businesses like @musgravemktpl in Belfast.

“Thank you also to Good Morning Ulster for the chance to talk to @SJBretty & @csbuckler.”

In his radio appearance on Good Morning Ulster, the Cabinet Office Minister revealed the UK has an “ambitious compromise” to tackle issues in the province and said the issue of goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland remains “at the heart” of the problem.

The proposal would see goods staying in Northern Ireland flow freely but those destined to reach the Republic of Ireland being “policed” by the UK in the Irish Sea.

Lord Frost was keen to stress this “hybrid” approach would not necessitate infrastructure or checks on the Ireland-Northern Ireland border and added the UK Government’s recommendations in the command paper do not mandate such measures either.

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When pushed by Good Morning Ulster’s Sarah Brett on whether Brussels was broadly in line with the UK’s position on checks but just wants more monitoring, Lord Frost said: “I think there’s more of a gap, to be honest, than that suggests.

“We are in a situation where the EU has made some proposals.

“At the moment, without going into detail, I’m not sure they would solve these problems.”

On Article 16, Lord Frost indicated his “preference” was to overcome issues in Northern Ireland without using the nuclear option.

However, he stressed it remains a “perfectly legitimate option” and claimed it would be invoked “to help trade flow more freely within the United Kingdom”.

Good Morning Ulster’s Chris Buckler also asked Lord Frost whether Northern Irish business can take advantage of having access to both the EU and UK’s single market.

“The problem is there isn’t a best of both worlds at the moment because there isn’t free access to goods from Great Britain,” he said.

According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Great Britain made up for £11.3billion out of Ulster’s £23billion exports and £13.4billion out of the province’s £21.3billion imports in 2019.

This is around 49 percent of exports and 62 percent of imports.

Estimates suggest trade barriers erected under the Northern Ireland Protocol between Ulster and Great Britain have cost the province around £850million to date.

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Frost suggested there is also constitutional concern trade diversion has “worried people” about the strength of the Union in Northern Ireland.

On social media he added: “While I heard a range of views, it’s clear that for many the current implementation of the Protocol continues to be very problematic. The need to find sustainable solutions is as great as ever.

“We’ve also had new data out today showing continued trade diversion involving Northern Ireland, leading to increased costs and reduced costs for consumers.

“Article 16 remains on the table. But I would still prefer to agree consensual solutions with the EU to resolve the issues. Intensive talks continue, and I’ll be meeting @MarosSefcovic again later this week.

“There is still time, with goodwill and ambition, to turn away from confrontation, move beyond these current difficulties, and find a better way of protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.”

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