Brexit chaos continues as a minister proposes to repeal Northern Ireland’s border rules prior Christmas — despite Lord Frost continually insisting this threat is not on the table

  • UK and EU continue to hold talks about improving Northern Ireland’s borders
  • Lord Frost threatened repeatedly to unilaterally dismantle rules without a deal
  • Anne-Marie Trevelyan, however, ruled out that the UK would abandon the rules prior to Christmas
  • Downing Street quickly rejected the trade secretary’s suggestion 

Today, the UK’s Cabinet Minister plunged into chaos its negotiating strategy for the Northern Ireland border row. She did this after ruling out unilaterally suspending Customs Checks prior to Christmas.

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, claimed the UK will ‘absolutely not’ act on its own to tear up border rules before the end of the year.

These comments seemed to weaken Brexit Minister Lord Frost. Frost has repeated his belief that the UK can make such a move at any moment if it is refused by the EU during crunch talks. 

Downing Street swiftly dismissed the claim of Ms Trevelyan, while the Official Spokesman to the Prime Minister insisted that Article 16 could not be triggered until a specific date.  

Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the International Trade Secretary, claimed the UK will 'absolutely not' act on its own to tear up border rules in Northern Ireland before the end of the year

Anne-Marie Trevelyan (International Trade Secretary) stated that the UK would ‘absolutely’ not act alone to remove Northern Ireland’s border regulations before the end the year.

Her comments appeared to undermine Brexit Minister Lord Frost who has repeatedly insisted that the UK could make the move at any point if the EU refuses to give ground during crunch talks

These comments were a deflection of Brexit Minister Lord Frost, who repeatedly stated that Britain could move anytime at any time if the EU does not give way during crunch negotiations

Talks between the UK and EU continue to be held about how to improve Northern Ireland Protocol.  

Protocol, which was part of the original Brexit agreement, required that goods be checked at ports to prevent the Republic from returning a border to its land. 

However, it caused trade disruption and has angered unionists.   

The United Kingdom and Brussels are currently in negotiations over how the Protocol can be improved, but no breakthrough has been reached.    

If the EU does not agree to the Government’s threats to activate Article 16 of Protocol to unilaterally suspend border arrangements, the government has made repeated threats to do so.

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

Lord Frost said that while the UK prefers to make a deal to improve its protocol, Article 16 will still be on the table. 

However, Ms Trevelyan appeared to pull the rug out from underneath Lord Frost as she told The Telegraph: ‘I don’t think anyone’s calling Article 16 before Christmas, absolutely not.’    

Downing Street rejected the suggestion made by Ms Trevelyan, as the PM’s Official Spokesman said: ‘Our preference remains to agree a negotiated solution if we can. We will, of course, use Article 16 the safety mechanism if no solutions can be found.

Asked directly if the Government is willing to trigger Article 16 before Christmas, the spokesman replied: ‘Well, I am not going to put a timetable on it. 

“We believe the safety mechanism for Article 16 has been activated.

“That’s the Government position.” We will seek a consensual and negotiated solution.

The row came as Ms Trevelyan used a speech at the Margaret Thatcher Conference on Trade at lunchtime to insist the UK can now ‘write a new chapter in our proud trading history’ following Brexit.

At the Centre for Policy Studies event, she stated that: “For the first-time in nearly 50 years, I am not waiting on the EU’s bureaucratic “computer says no”, where trade negotiations drag on, for the first time.

“We are an independent trading country, capable of reaching out on our own and securing great deals, empowering businesses to take advantage of those opportunities and create highly skilled jobs. We also forge an open and enterprising economic which allows us to rebuild better after the pandemic and level up the UK.

“With the enthusiasm, innovation, and engagement of business, communities and this ambitious strategic, we will unlock our nation’s bright potential and write another chapter in our proud trade history.”