Boris Johnson and Liz Truss were today urged to show the ‘same resolve’ they used to confront Vladimir Putin in Ukraine over the dispute between Britain and the EU over the ‘North Ireland.
The Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary this week warned Brussels that the UK was ready to roll back key parts of a post-Brexit deal.
The government is now expected to announce new laws to roll back elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol within days, with claims it could happen as early as Tuesday.
The long-running dispute has been given added urgency since the outcome of last week’s historic election in Northern Ireland, which saw Sinn Fein replace the DUP as the biggest party in Stormont.
The DUP has insisted it will not return to a power-sharing administration in Northern Ireland until there is action on the protocol.
And the Unionist Party today confirmed it will not name a speaker for the first sitting of the Northern Ireland Assembly, as part of its protest against post-Brexit trade deals.
This will prevent the assembly from working.
The EU has made veiled threats of a bitter trade war with Britain, if the Prime Minister goes ahead with unilateral action on the protocol.
Meanwhile, there have been fresh suggestions that a post-Brexit trade deal between the US and UK could be jeopardized if tensions over Northern Ireland escalate.
Lord Frost hailed Boris Johnson and Liz Truss as ‘leaders’ of Ukraine and urged them to ‘show the same resolve in Northern Ireland’
Prime Minister and Foreign Minister praised for how they confronted Russian President Vladimir Putin
Unionists fear the protocol has damaged Northern Ireland’s status within the UK
Tory counterpart Lord Frost, who was in charge of Brexit negotiations with the EU before resigning from government last year, today said ministers now had ‘no choice’ but to act unilaterally to override the protocol.
In an article for the Telegraph, the former Cabinet minister revealed how he had previously considered ending talks with the EU and taking unilateral action last December, but decided against it due to worsening Covid rates.
With Ms Truss having replaced him at the helm of UK negotiations and with Covid “in the rear view mirror”, Lord Frost urged the government to act now.
Claiming the Good Friday Agreement was “alive”, he wrote: “There is an imminent threat to our ability to govern Northern Ireland and protect the economic, commercial and security interests of its people”.
“It is obviously essential that the UK government is able to govern the whole country properly. That is why it must act – and has the absolute right and duty to do so.
Lord Frost also offered a comparison between Britain’s efforts against Mr Putin over Ukraine and the protocol line.
“Sometimes governments and their leaders just have to do the right thing,” he said.
“Fortunately, doing the right thing is usually also the best thing for our country. Boris Johnson and Liz Truss have shown they are leaders in Ukraine.
“Now they must show the same resolve in Northern Ireland and finally restore self-government for the whole of the UK.”
The protocol was designed to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit and imposed controls on goods moving from Britain to Northern Ireland.
But the EU’s “dogmatic” and “rigid” implementation of the protocol has been blamed by British ministers for causing significant disruption to trade.
The DUP and other trade unionists also fear the deal has damaged Northern Ireland’s status within the UK.
Ms Truss this week held what was described as an ‘unnerving’ phone call with EU Vice-President Maros Sefcovic during their latest discussions of protocol changes.
The foreign secretary again criticized EU officials for not showing “flexibility” in resolving trade issues.
But Mr Sefcovic hit back and raised the prospect of a bitter trade war between the EU and the UK if Britain pursued unilateral action.
The Protocol Line is also causing angst in Washington, with a delegation of influential US politicians due to travel to Europe in days for Protocol Line meetings.
The Guardian reported that the delegation will be led by US Congressman Richie Neal, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which has significant power over future trade deals.
In earlier comments on the protocol line, he claimed the US ‘won’t agree’ to a post-Brexit trade deal with Britain if there’s ‘danger’ to the Friday deal Holy.
Lord Frost said ministers now had ‘no choice’ but to act unilaterally to override protocol
The Prime Minister will retain a final decision on whether to move forward with unilateral measures on the protocol until next week.
According to the Times, a decision will be officially announced on Tuesday.
Attorney General Suella Braverman, the government’s chief legal adviser, has not denied reports that she has already approved scrapping large parts of the protocol with emergency legislation.
Speaking on the BBC last night, Ms Braverman claimed the need for UK action was ‘become painfully, seemingly necessary’.
Another Cabinet minister, Jacob Rees-Mogg, today condemned the EU for trying to ‘feel bad’ at Britain for leaving the bloc in the protocol dispute.
The Minister for Brexit Opportunities and Government Effectiveness told GB News: ‘I think he wants the UK to feel bad about leaving the European Union.
“And that underlies all of his politics and he doesn’t really care about the consequences of that.”
“We just have to go on living and recognize that we are gone. We have to chart our own path.
“We are an independent country, and what the EU wants and thinks is secondary.”