Politics

‘Looking on in disbelief’ Frost warned trade deals risked as he ‘tries to rewrite history’

Northern Ireland may become 'serious problem' warns Rogers

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A huge row has erupted between the UK and European Union over Britain’s refusal to fully implement the hotly disputed trade mechanism, with Boris Johnson and is Brexit minister insisting it simply isn’t working. Earlier this month, the European Commission appeared to climb down from its stance, with vice president Maros Sefcovic proposing a set of “far-reaching” measures aimed at resolving post-Brexit trade issues in Northern Ireland. This included slashing 80 percent of regulatory checks and cutting customs processes on the movement of goods between Britain and the island of Ireland.

But the EU proposals have still fallen a long way short of what the UK is currently demanding, with Brexit minister Lord Frost seeking a complete overhaul of large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Under the mechanism, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would act as the final arbitrator in any future trade dispute between the two sides.

Lord Frost wants this key provision removed and replaced with an independent arbitration process – but the EU is not caving to this demand – paving the way for several weeks of intense talks between the two sides.

Alistair Jones, associate politics professor at De Montfort University in Leicester, has launched a furious attack against the UK, tearing apart a claim the EU pressured the UK into signing up to the terms of the Protocol.

He told Express.co.uk: Lord Frost claims the EU forced Britain to sign up to the Protocol under pressure of time. This is a bare-faced lie.

“The EU offered extensions and Johnson refused, demanding everything be signed, sealed and delivered before the end of 2020.

“The post-Brexit Trade Agreement was signed off in a flourish, with both sides claiming it to be a great deal.

“The rest of the world is looking on in disbelief as Lord Frost tries to rewrite history.

“This also undermines any future deals with other countries.”

The UK has threatened to tear up the Protocol by triggering Article 16, which would see a large amount or even the whole of the Protocol agreement completely torn up.

But the EU has warned it will retaliate against such a move and implied it could start a bitter trade war with Brexit Britain.

Professor Jones does not believe Lord Frost will trigger the mechanism anytime before Christmas as there is “too much to be lost” from a trade war with the EU.

He said the Prime Minister could use any success from the upcoming COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow as a “grandstanding” tool in negotiations with the EU.

But the politics expert warned that, as it stands, the current situation is edging ever closer to a dreaded trade war or the EU launching legal proceedings against the UK for not fully implementing the agreed Protocol.

The politics expert concluded: “There is too much to be lost by having a trade dispute with the EU starting at the same time as the UK tries to gain kudos from holding the COP26 summit.

“If that summit is a success, watch out for some grandstanding from Johnson in relation to proceedings with the EU.

“The question will be the extent to which the UK Government starts to implement the Protocol properly, and failure to do so will see the EU initiate court proceedings.

He added: “This is gradually moving closer to either the courts or a trade war.

“The problem is it is a zero-sum game – the UK wants to remove the ECJ from play and the EU cannot have parts of the Single Market operating without such oversight.

“This was flagged up as a concern when debating the Northern Ireland situation at the time of the referendum.

“Such fears were dismissed as fearmongering; but they have come to pass.”

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