UK cannot return to EU social model after Brexit says Frost
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Post-Brexit negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol appear to have reached a stalemate. EU-UK talks having been extended into 2022 due to neither side being willing to compromise on key issues.
Lord Frost has been accused of “softening his tone” over the Protocol, in a possible sign that the UK could bend before Brussels.
Yesterday, on Thursday, the Brexit Minister sparked controversy not in his comments to the EU but in those to fellow Lords.
He told the House that Britain’s willingness to show “pragmatism” to Irish goods coming to Britain will depend on how far the EU allows the UK to trade within its own borders.
He said: “The degree of pragmatism that we show in future to Irish goods coming to Great Britain will be related to the degree of pragmatism and flexibility that the EU shows in allowing goods to move freely around all parts of the UK.”
Critics suggest the idea of the UK waiting on a thumbs up from Brussels in order to move goods within its own borders is a sign Lord Frost is not doing enough to regain British sovereignty.
Scots for Leave took to Twitter to criticise the Brexit Minister’s concession.
The group said: “That’s not taking back control, Lord Frost.
“That’s not sovereignty.”
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On Twitter, Gavin Barrett, a professor specialising in EU law, claimed Lord Frost’s comment amounted to “holding Ireland to ransom”.
Another Twitter user, Eoin Kelleher, said it appeared to be an “admission that he knows the EU can mould British sovereignty to its own will”.
Lord Frost faced questions on the phasing in of checks and controls on goods imported into Britain from the EU from January.
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Lord Folks of Cumnock noted the possibility these could cause further disruption for businesses, particularly those both small and medium in size.
But Lord Frost insisted businesses must – and are showing a “great capacity” to – “adapt to new rules”.
He added: “People will need to adjust to them.”
Lord Frost received particular criticism over the weekend after speculation arose that his negotiating team had dropped the requirement for the European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) role as oversee of the Protocol to be removed – this being a major sticking point for the EU.
Despite claims on a change in tone, a spokesman told News Letter that the idea the ECJ requirement would be dropped was “an inaccurate characterisation of our position”.
He added: “Any durable solution must address the full range of difficulties created by the Protocol, including on the European Court of Justice.”
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