Not over yet! Frost warned ‘most important Brexit challenge’ lies ahead – EU row rages on

Brexit ‘wrinkles will take a couple of years’ says David Davis

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Although praising Lord Frost for how he has dealt with Brussels, the Tory MP for Chingford and Woodford Green claimed the Northern Ireland protocol must be dealt with. The protocol has been accused of creating severe trade issues for businesses while also leaving the state isolated from the rest of the UK. Due to this, Sir Iain said: “We can sort this out once and for all because, unlike the previous government’s weakness, Boris Johnson’s administration has the strength to revisit the unworkable mess of the Protocol.

“Lord Frost may have a very full in-tray, but the need to deal with the Protocol is the most important thing in it.”

Issues sparked this year after the EU threatened to invoke Article 16 of the Northern Ireland protocol.

By doing so, vaccines being produced in the EU would have been blocked from entering Great Britain via Northern Ireland.

Amid the EU’s calls to preserve the peace process on the island of Ireland, Brexiteers have accused the bloc of weaponising the north.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, Sir Iain added: “Despite Brussels’s constant references to the Good Friday Agreement and its importance, instead of working pragmatically with the UK on alternatives they have insisted on sticking to the Protocol to the letter in a way that is harming Northern Irish businesses and ignoring the tensions rising as a result.

“The depth of the EU’s ambivalence towards Irish and Northern Irish interests was, of course, best illustrated by the decision to invoke Article 16 of the Protocol, without consulting the UK or Ireland and thus overnight creating the very border they claimed had to be avoided.

“Now we must hold the EU to its commitments to the Good Friday Agreement and to working for alternatives to the Irish Sea Border.

“We must restart discussions over mutual enforcement and alternative arrangements which were broken off.

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“Everyone knows that the Protocol doesn’t work.

“As the Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble has said, the danger is that it is already seriously damaging sensitive relationships forged by him and others in the Good Friday/Belfast agreement.”

In contrast, Ireland’s Prime Minister Micheal Martin claimed the protocol can and must be made to work.

Although he acknowledged the disruption caused by the protocol, Mr Martin told the British Irish Parliamentary Assembly efforts must be made to fully implement the procedure.

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He added: “We are seeing changes, since the beginning of this year, on flows and supply chains between Great Britain and Ireland, and indeed between all EU countries and Great Britain.

“While we will continue to work to minimise disruptions where possible, the reality is that the UK is now outside of the EU’s single market and customs union, and the flow of goods between the UK and its neighbours is now subject to controls both on the British and EU sides.

“This brings serious new complexities and challenges, but Britain is and will remain a key trading partner and an important market for Ireland.

“It is in all of our interests to help our businesses manage this change.

“We all recognise in particular the need to support our small and medium-sized enterprises, which provide so much employment across all jurisdictions on these islands.

“There is no version of Brexit that does not mean change, and change on this scale, by its very nature, can be difficult and challenging – especially in Northern Ireland where the Executive has been operating for little over a year following a long hiatus, and where there are many other important challenges on the agenda.”

Previously, however, Mr Martin had expressed his concern over the EU’s intent to invoke Article 16.

Although soon revoked, he insisted the threat should never be made again.

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