Relations with EU will NEVER recover if bloc refuses to back down – Frost berates Brussels

Boris Johnson quizzed by Chris Bryant on Brexit and Hancock

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The Brexit minister insisted eurocrats must drop their demand for Britain to align to the bloc’s rules and consider more pragmatic solutions before the tensions can be ironed out. He said resolving the row over the Northern Ireland Protocol was fundamental for getting the relationship back on track. European Commission officials want Downing Street to adopt their animal and food safety rules as the price for slashing red tape in the region.

To avoid a hard border, Northern Ireland essentially remains in the EU’s single market, with a number of customs controls of shipments from mainland Britain.

But Lord Frost accused the EU of causing problems with its approach and said the proposal would not lead to a permanent end to the ceasefire agreed last month on a ban on the sale of British sausages in Northern Ireland.

He told a Policy Exchange think-tank event: “We are sometimes accused of being ideological for not accepting that but actually the ideological thing is to say the only solution to these problems is that we should adopt EU law – that is simply a non-starter.”

The peer added: “The issues about the Protocol are obviously central to the tensions between us, so I don’t think we will ever get this relationship onto a new and constructive footing, where we want it to be, unless we can find a good solution to this problem.”

Downing Street will set out new proposals to resolve the issues around the post-Brexit border fix to MPs before the House of Commons rises for summer recess on July 22.

Despite promising to ensure “all options remain on the table”, Lord Frost insisted the plans would not include delivering an ultimatum to the EU.

He added: “There’s no deadlines here. We’re not putting something on the table and saying take it or leave it, or you must work to this particular timetable through setting our approach to Parliament.”

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson acknowledged the ceasefire over sausage exports was only a “stay of execution” and the issue was “very far from fixed”.

Last month Brussels agreed to delay its ban on the sale of British chilled meats, such as burgers and mince, in Northern Ireland until the end of September.

The region’s Jewish community has raised this as a major issue because they would be unable to access Kosher foods unless it is resolved.

Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis warned that it risks “an exodus of the Jewish community” from the area.

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He added: “None of us can tolerate, or be willing to accept, that outcome.

“People across Northern Ireland have the right to enjoy the products they’ve always enjoyed.

“We want to ensure that people in Northern Ireland can continue to feel, act and be an integrated part of the United Kingdom.”

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With the grace period from the EU’s red tape set to expire on September 30, Mr Lewis called for a “permanent solution” and not a “cliff edge” that could spark food shortages.

He added: “We’re coming up to the 25th anniversary fairly soon on the horizon of the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, something we’re all very focused on.

“The promise of the last few decades of peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland is there to really grasp and turbocharge as we move forward.”

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