Frost in UK says situation in Northern Ireland “unsustainable”
Joe Mayes | Bloomberg
The UK government has urged the European Union to show a ‘common sense’ approach to its post-Brexit future ahead of a key meeting this week, in which the two sides will seek solutions to avoid further unrest in North Ireland.
“The EU needs a new playbook for dealing with its neighbors, which involves pragmatic solutions between friends,” British Brexit Minister David Frost wrote in an article for the Financial Times, where he detailed the problems created by Brexit and their impact on Northern Ireland. “Not side-to-side rule-making and legal purism.”
Northern Ireland has been a major flashpoint between the UK and the EU since Britain left the bloc earlier this year, sparking violent protests against new border controls and customs formalities on trade crossing the Irish Sea. Meanwhile, the EU has taken legal action against the UK for unilaterally changing the terms of its post-Brexit deal over Northern Ireland, which has a border with the Republic of Ireland, a member of the EU.
Clément Beaune, French Deputy Minister for European Affairs, hit back in response to Frost’s article, saying the Northern Ireland protocol to the Brexit deal is not the problem, but rather “a solution to a problem that we did not create “. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney also responded to Frost’s article, dismissing the idea that EU inflexibility is the problem.
US President Joe Biden is expected to warn UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson when they meet at the G-7 summit this week not to back down on the deal, according to a front-page report in the Times newspaper Monday in London. Biden, who has often spoken proudly of his Irish ancestors, is expected to tell Johnson that the United States sees the deal as key to long-term peacekeeping in Northern Ireland.
Frost, who is due to meet with European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic at the first meeting of the UK-EU Partnership Council this week, said Britain was implementing the terms of the protocol to Northern Ireland and made suggestions on how it could be improved.
He also said the UK government underestimated the impact Brexit would have on trade between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland, and that things could get worse in October when a waiver on the paperwork for food items will expire.
“Time is running out,” said Frost, describing the situation as “totally unsustainable” if the EU does not show more flexibility in how the protocol is applied. “We must see progress soon.”
Joao Vale de Almeida, the EU’s Ambassador to the UK, said that there is currently a low level of trust between the two sides and the EU is ready to use retaliatory measures against the Great Brittany if it does not respect its post-Brexit agreement.
“If we have to get there, we’ll get there,” de Almeida told Times Radio on Sunday. “We are ready for the worst scenarios. “