Liz Truss appointment ‘a disaster’ says Richard Tice
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Former MEP and GB News presenter Alex Phillips warned the threat the UK has repeatedly made to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol is becoming “less powerful”. She urged the Foreign Secretary, who has taken over responsibility for the UK’s future relationship with the EU from Lord Frost, to finally act.
Ms Phillips told Express.co.uk: “The longer that we don’t do it, the less powerful threat it becomes.
“There’s not really a negotiating chip at all when you’ve said it about 5,000 times and not actually done anything about it.”
Ms Phillips’ comments come as talks on the protocol between the UK and the EU are continuing in the new year.
The ex-Brexit Party MEP said she fears Ms Truss could be more likely than her predecessor to back down to Brussels.
She said: “With Lord Frost leaving he really did hold the feet to the fire of the EU.
“I think the concern now is how much that is going to continue.”
Ms Phillips highlighted how Ms Truss has “a lot on her plate” as Foreign Secretary on top of negotiations with the EU.
She said: “There could be all sorts of other things going on from China to Russia, huge issues to contend with.”
The GB News presenter also pointed out that Ms Truss backed Remain in the 2016 referendum
She said: “So it does seem to ardent, pure Brexiteers like me there’s a cause for concern but she has not started that job yet.
“She’s made a decent enough fist of Trade Secretary, rolling over a lot of trade deals.
“It was impressive the amount she clocked up but a lot of those were relatively simple to do because they didn’t change any of the terms or the conditions that have already been laid out by the EU.
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“So I think what we’re all looking for is a bold ambition to really make the most of Brexit.
“The proof of the pudding is always in the eating and she hasn’t done anything about this yet so let’s see.
“She’s considered by many to be a formidable character, a safe pair of hands. I think she could do with the benefit of the doubt but there are certainly a few red flags.”
On December 21, Ms Truss had her first call with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic since taking over from Lord Frost, who quit citing the “current direction of travel” of the Government.
Ms Truss said afterwards: “We want a constructive relationship with the EU, underpinned by trade and our shared belief in freedom and democracy.
“Resolving the current issues is critical to unleashing that potential.
“The UK position has not changed. We need goods to flow freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, end the role of the ECJ (European Court of Justice) as the final arbiter of disputes between us, and resolve other issues.
“We must pick up the pace on talks in the New Year. Our preference remains to reach an agreed solution.
“If this does not happen, we remain prepared to trigger Article 16 safeguards to deal with the very real problems faced in Northern Ireland and to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions.”
The protocol was agreed by the UK and EU as a way to maintain a free-flowing land border on the island of Ireland after Brexit
But businesses have been hit by the changes, and London and Brussels are trying to reach an agreement that would reduce customs paperwork and the number of checks and inspections required on goods.
The prospect of triggering Article 16, a move that would effectively unilaterally suspend the treaty, has been repeatedly raised by the UK.
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