‘We reached the end of the road’ Lord Frost slams EU over Northern Ireland protocol issues

Protocol ‘at end of the line’ says Lord Frost

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Lord David Frost has slammed the European Union over its unwillingness to renegotiate the Northern Ireland protocol with Boris Johnson’s Government. The protocol has been at the top of the agenda following the Democratic Unionist Party’s defeat in Northern Ireland’s local election. Unionists have refused to share power with the nationalist Sinn Fein – now the largest party in power – amid concerns that the border checks in the Irish Sea could damage Northern Ireland’s economy and further separate Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

The Stormont Assembly is now in limbo as the DUP has refused to nominate a speaker in the power-sharing government out of concerns over the protocol.

To break that deadlock, the UK’s Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has called the EU’s Brexit Commissioner Maros Sefcovic to renegotiate the deal, which he discarded.

Because of both sides’ diverging positions, Lord Frost said, they have now reached a stalemate: “I think we’ve reached the end of the road.

“We are indeed trying to push the case that the protocol is at the end of the line.

“The best way forward would’ve been to renegotiate it as we suggested last year but we keep hearing from the EU, the government keeps hearing they’re not interested in doing that.

“That there’s only interested in talking on their terms.

“And they now need to act to protect the integrity of the country and the UK’s own internal market rather than the EU’s.”

While Foreign Secretary Liz Truss stressed the need to protect Northern Ireland’s peace and stability, the EU’s Brexit Commissioner discarded renegotiating the agreement signed in 2020. He also raised “serious concern” over the UK “embarking on the path of unilateral action.”

“If the EU would not show the requisite flexibility to help solve those issues, then as a responsible government we would have no choice but to act”, a statement from UK foreign ministry later said.

The UK-EU dispute comes as tensions escalated in the Northern Ireland Assembly today as the DUP – the second-largest party – decided not to elect a speaker until all their concerns were addressed. The move has plunged the Assembly into limbo and effectively made it dysfunctional.

Under the protocol, Northern Ireland has had to check goods travelling from Great Britain into Northern Ireland since the start of 2021 – effectively creating a checks border in the Irish Sea. But the DUP’s position is that the border checks are undermining Northern Ireland’s economy and political stability.

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“I believe that we need to send a very clear message to the European Union and to our government that we are serious about the protocol sorted out”, the DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said, citing political instability and a worsening cost-of-living crisis as reasons for blocking the nomination.

In the face of the political stalemate, Sinn Fein’s deputy leader Michelle O’Neill said the DUP “are disgracefully holding the public to ransom for their Brexit mess. Shameful.”

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