Brexit: 'Trouble' in Northern Ireland 'pleasing' EU says expert
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Brexit minister Lord Frost will later set out plans to radically reform the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border, demanding that customs controls in the Irish Sea are eliminated. Insiders say that the proposals will leave “all options on the table” – including further unilateral action to scrap the EU-imposed trade rules for the region. It will represent a demand for a “wholesale change in approach” from Brussels, which No10 has accused of being too bureaucratic when addressing the issues surrounding Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost is expected to argue that the Government is already well within its rights to trigger the Article 16 override clause because of the chilling effect on trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain caused by the measures.
But the Brexit minister will stress that a negotiated solution is still the Government’s most favoured outcome as it hopes to repair the Uk and EU’s patchy relationship.
One insider told Express.co.uk: “Solutions must be found to address the issues which are causing significant disruption on the ground in Northern Ireland.
“All options remain on the table if these cannot be reached.”
The EU is expected to respond furiously to any threats of further unilateral action.
Eurocrats have already started legal proceedings against the UK after the Government earlier this year delayed the implementation of EU rules on supermarket goods, pets and parcels in Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost’s plans are expected to outline a strategy for ensuring that all goods made in Great Britain can cross into the region without customs controls.
This could include an “honesty box” approach that allows firms to skip trade checks if they declare their goods are only meant for sale and consumption in Northern Ireland.
Downing Street also wants a dual-standards regime that would allow products made in line with UK rules to be allowed to circulate freely alongside EU-compliant goods.
The products will once again be labelled as only for use in Northern Ireland.
Brussels is still pushing for Britain to sign up to the bloc’s agrifood rules in return for dropping as many as 80 percent of the checks on goods shipped to the area.
Lord Frost has ruled out adopting any rules that will allow eurocrats to meddle in the domestic affairs of the UK.
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He has pitched a counter proposal that would allow the UK and EU to recognise each other’s high standards in order to eliminate the checks.
The proposals are set to spark another furious round of wrangling ahead of September, when a number of grace periods allowing for slow implementation of the EU-ordered checks expire.
It will likely trigger another so-called “sausage war” with the waiver on the EU’s ban on chilled meats one of the measures set to run out.
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A UK official told the FT: “We are keen to see a constructive and consensual approach to resolve the outstanding issues with the protocol at pace.
“But it is clear that a wholesale change in approach is required to do that.”
Lord Frost earlier this week told MPs that the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland Protocol was “unsustainable” in its current form.
He said it was vital to “hugely reduce or eliminate barriers” created by the post-Brexit border fix, which the Brexit minister said was putting businesses off from trading in the region.
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