Brexit: Lord Frost urges 'common sense' ahead of EU showdown amid trade war threats

9 June 2021, 07:45 | Updated: 9 June 2021, 10:51

Lord Frost will meet European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic for talks in London
Lord Frost will meet European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic for talks in London. Picture: PA

By Patrick Grafton-Green

Brexit minister Lord Frost has urged the EU to show "pragmatism and common sense" ahead of a showdown over the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement in Northern Ireland.

Lord Frost will meet European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic for talks in London later on Wednesday.

He said threats from Brussels of trade wars and legal action would not help people and businesses in Northern Ireland struggling with the "damaging impact" of the agreement.

Mr Sefcovic has said the EU will act "swiftly, firmly and resolutely" if the UK tries to backtrack on its obligations under the Northern Ireland Protocol in the agreement.

READ MORE: Post-Brexit EU ban on British sausages 'nonsense', Environment Secretary says

READ MORE: Brexit: EU warns it will act 'firmly' to ensure Northern Ireland Protocol is followed

It comes amid reports Britain is ready to act unilaterally to delay the imposition of checks on chilled meats such as sausages and chicken nuggets coming to Northern Ireland from Great Britain when the current "grace period" expires at the end of June.

In a statement ahead of his meeting with Mr Sefcovic, Lord Frost said time was running out to find "practical solutions" needed to enable the protocol to work as it was intended to.

He said the "overriding priority" for both sides must be the preservation of the Northern Ireland peace process and he called on the EU to show the "flexibility" required to achieve the results which "enjoy the confidence of all communities".

"Businesses in Great Britain are choosing not to sell their goods into Northern Ireland because of burdensome paperwork, medicine manufacturers are threatening to cut vital supplies, and chilled meats from British farmers destined for the Northern Ireland market are at risk of being banned entirely," he said.

Environment Secretary grilled over possible NI sausage trade war

"Further threats of legal action and trade retaliation from the EU won't make life any easier for the shopper in Strabane who can't buy their favourite product. Nor will it benefit the small business in Ballymena struggling to source produce from their supplier in Birmingham.

"What is needed is pragmatism and common sense solutions to resolve the issues as they are before us. This work is important. And it is ever more urgent.

"It is only by making substantial progress across the whole range of difficulties that we can show people in Northern Ireland that the protocol can work in a pragmatic, proportionate and sustainable way - as was always intended."

Downing Street insisted there could be no justification for preventing chilled meats from the rest of the UK being sold in Northern Irish shops, while Environment Secretary George Eustice told LBC the suggestion was "nonsense", adding he did not think "there was any need for a trade war".

Mr Sefcovic had earlier raised the prospect of a trade war - with Brussels imposing tariffs and quotas on British exports - if the UK failed to meet its international obligations under the the protocol.

The agreement - intended to ensure there is no return to a hard border with the Republic - means that Northern Ireland remains part of the EU single market, which in turn requires checks on some goods coming from Great Britain.

But Mr Sefcovic said there had been "numerous and fundamental gaps" in the UK's implementation of the agreement.

He said if Britain took further unilateral measures, the EU "will not be shy in reacting swiftly, firmly and resolutely to ensure that the UK abides by its international law obligations".

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

People Kevin Costner

Divorce of Kevin Costner and Christine Baumgartner finalised

Jonnie Irwin and his wife, Jessica

Jonnie Irwin's grieving wife Jessica breaks silence as she reveals his death 'still doesn't feel real' two weeks on

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Prince William ‘knew making plea for permanent peace in Gaza would cause controversy’ - but ‘felt he had no choice’

Alexei Navalny was 'murdered' by Putin

Putin plans to launch ‘killing spree’ against Russia critics in the UK after Alexei Navalny 'murder'

Defendant Ruby Franke looks on during court in St George, Utah

YouTuber Ruby Franke apologises at sentencing in child abuse case

Duane 'Keffe D' Davis in court during a status hearing at the Regional Justice Centre in Las Vegas

Ex-gang leader’s murder trial over Tupac Shakur killing pushed back to November

Ruby Franke will serve up to 60 years in prison

Parenting advice YouTuber and influencer Ruby Franke jailed for abusing her children

Shehbaz Sharif

Rivals of Pakistan ex-premier Khan name Shehbaz Sharif as joint candidate for PM

Palestinian crowds struggle to buy bread from a bakery in Rafah, Gaza Strip

UN World Food Programme suspends aid amid chaos in northern Gaza

The Security Council meets before voting on a resolution concerning a ceasefire in Gaza at United Nations headquarters

US vetoes UN resolution demanding immediate humanitarian ceasefire in Gaza

Under the order, Lingham is banned from entering Holt Lowes between February 1 and October 1.

Shell-shocked: 'Addicted' Norfolk man 'illegally collected 3,000 native bird eggs'

In an apparent attempt to get ahead of another possible rebellion, Labour on Tuesday tabled its lengthy amendment, which will be voted on tomorrow.

'I want to do what is right': Labour's ceasefire motion is 'broader' and 'goes further' than the SNP's, says David Lammy

Prince William has called for an end to the Israel-Hamas war

Israel says Gaza war will only end when 'Hamas is dismantled' in direct reply to Prince William’s intervention

David Neal has been sacked by the Home Office

Home Office fires immigration chief inspector David Neal after claims about security risks at major London airport

Exclusive
Shahd Waleed is trying to leave Rafah with her parents and enter Egypt

'They want us to experience pain': Young woman trapped in Rafah with her parents tells of terror as Israel invasion looms

Gabriela was fired from her job cleaning at Devonshires

Cleaner ‘fired after taking leftover £1.50 tuna sandwich’ speaks out against ‘unfair bosses’ as protesters target law firm