The Brexit and Northern Ireland feud escalated after the UK government issued a new warning to the EU that it will not hesitate to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland protocol agreed to by Boris Johnson Last year.
Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, told the House of Lords on Monday evening that the EU should take UK proposals to renegotiate part of the protocol “seriously” if it is to avoid the collapse of the protocol.
He said his July order document set out the tests the UK would apply to trigger Article 16 of the protocol, which allows either party to suspend the protocol if it is considered to have a significant impact on the protocol. everyday life.
“I urge the EU to take this seriously. They would be making a big mistake if they thought that we were not ready to use the guarantees of Article 16, if that is our only choice to deal with the situation we are facing. If we want to avoid Article 16, there must be a real negotiation between us and the EU.
The Brexit minister was speaking just days after his Brussels counterpart, Maroš Šefčovič, co-chair of the EU-UK partnership council, called on the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) to “calm the rhetoric” after threatening to make Stormont collapse because of protocol. .
After a two-day visit to Northern Ireland, the Vice-President of the European Commission said renegotiating the protocol would only increase instability in businesses and communities.
Frost’s remarks show how poorly Šefčovič’s comments were received in Downing Street and suggest that the gulf between the EU and the UK is widening.
“I was concerned about some of the comments we have heard from commission officials in recent days which seem to suggest they might consider this way forward. [the take it or leave it approach] ”Said Frost.
“If that is the case, then with all seriousness possible, my lords, I urge them to think again and instead consider working to come to a real deal with us so that we can put something in place that can last.” These negotiations must begin in earnest and they must begin soon. “
Last week, the DUP, which is fighting to retain its electoral base locally, issued an ultimatum to the EU, saying it would leave the Stormont assembly if there was not a serious overhaul of the protocol in the weeks.
Days earlier, the UK announced it was unilaterally extending a grace period for checks on chilled meats, including sausages.
Šefčovič told reporters on Friday that the EU responded calmly and chose not to take legal action in order to create a space for dialogue.