Lord Frost said that tearing down the Northern Ireland border rules after Brexit’remains at the table. He also warned the EU to not mistake his “reasonable tone” during negotiations for a softening of the UK’s negotiation stance.

  • Lord Frost declared that Northern Ireland’s Brexit-related border rules should be rewritten. 
  • EU Minister says EU must not confuse “reasonable tone” with softening its demands
  • UK and EU continue to hold talks about how to improve Northern Ireland Protocol 

Lord Frost warned the EU today that there is still the possibility of a unilateral threat to tear down the Northern Ireland post-Brexit Border Rules. 

Britain and Brussels continue to hold talks in an effort to reach an agreement on the Northern Ireland Protocol.

There is little evidence of progress and Lord Frost said at lunchtime, “But there’s no sign of any real change.” 

Also, the Brexit minister insisted that the UK had not lowered its demands for negotiating.

The EU was warned not to misunderstand his “reasonable tone” during negotiations as a sign of ‘any softening or change in the substantive position”. 

Boris Johnson said earlier this week that it would be ‘perfectly legitimate’ for the UK to tear up post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland if improvements cannot be agreed with the EU. 

But Brussels has warned such a move would have ‘serious consequences’ for the region and the bloc’s relationship with the UK.

Lord Frost today warned the EU that a threat to unilaterally tear up post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland is still 'very much on the table'

Lord Frost warned today that the EU is still facing a threat of unilaterally tearing down post-Brexit Northern Ireland border regulations.

The Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed as part of the original Brexit deal, requires checks on goods to be carried out at ports in order to avoid the return of a land border with the Republic. 

However, it caused trade disruption and has angered unionists.   

The UK and EU are currently in talks about how to improve operation of the Protocol, but no breakthrough has been reached.    

If the EU is not willing to negotiate, the Government repeatedly threatens Article 16 to be used to suspend unilaterally the border arrangements.

This move could almost certainly prompt a Brussels-based legal challenge and lead to a trade war.    

Asked if the UK is softening its stance during the talks, Lord Frost told peers: ‘The answer is no. We want to come to an agreement. This has been our policy since inception. We have been there since July.  

“I think it’s important that EU friends don’t see my reasonable tone in discussions with them and interpret that as suggesting any softening of the substantive position.

The minister stated to the House of Lords, that Article 16 threat is still on the table. 

“Whatever messages the EU may have heard, or read contrary, our position is the same…we would prefer to negotiate an agreement, if it’s possible,” he stated.

“That’s the only way to ensure stability and prosperity in Northern Ireland.”

The Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed as part of the original Brexit deal, requires checks on goods to be carried out at ports in order to avoid the return of a land border with the Republic

As part of the original Brexit agreement, the Northern Ireland Protocol requires that goods be checked at ports to prevent the Republic from reopening its land borders with it.

“But I’d like to make it clear that I didn’t believe any of the outcomes from these negotiations would safeguard Northern Ireland’s political, financial, and social stability.

“In such situations, we would naturally need to provide safeguards using Article 16; those safeguards are still very much on hand and they remain a valid provision in the protocol.”

Labour frontbencher Baroness Chapman of Darlington asked Lord Frost to give his ‘percentage assessment’ of the talks succeeding by Christmas but he refused to be drawn. 

According to him, it was somewhere between zero-100. It doesn’t help to place specific numbers on such things.