Blame Boris! Brexiteers say PM stalling on triggering Article 16 – Lord Frost ready to act

EU protocols on Northern Ireland trade are 'nutty' says expert

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The Prime Minister has been accused of keeping talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol going despite little progress in negotiations. MPs believe Lord Frost is eager to imminently start the legal process for suspending aspects of the international treaty but is being stopped from doing so by No10.

The Brexit minister and his EU counterpart, Maros Sefcovic, have been engaged in intense negotiations over the Protocol for eight weeks now.

Despite efforts from both sides to find a way to resolve the frictions caused by the mechanism, no breakthrough has been made.

When negotiations began, Lord Frost said he thought talks should last no longer than three weeks and he would not be afraid to trigger Article 16 at the end of that time period if a solution had not been found.

He has since said negotiations will continue while the is still the hope of progress, and some Brexiteers believe there is no chance of Article 16 being used until at least January next year.

Laying the blame at the feet of No10, one MP told “I know Lord Frost wants to trigger Article 16.

“He feels it’s time. But Downing Street want to keep talking.”

They added: “We need to trigger Article 16 to move on from this.

“It’s the only way to properly fix it.

“The longer we threaten to do it and don’t, the less the EU believe us.

“I think they no longer believe we’re actually willing to do it.”

Another admitted that regardless of what Lord Frost wanted to do, it was the Prime Minister who would have the final say on when to end talks with the EU.

“Lord Frost has to act at some stage, or rather the Government has to act.

“I don’t think it will be down to him at the end of the day, it will be down to the Prime Minister,” they said.

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Expressing frustration Mr Johnson had signed up to the Protocol in the first place, they added they did not trust him to follow through with his rhetoric and plug the plug on the treaty.

They said: “I find it difficult to trust the Prime Minister.

“When you’ve broken trust like that with people, it’s very hard to regain that trust.”

Lord Frost held their latest round of virtual talks on the Protocol with Mr Sefcovic on Friday.

In a statement released afterwards, the Brexit minister said: “The UK still wanted to find a negotiated solution if that was possible and was ready to keep working constructively and intensively to that end.”

However, he added: “Our position remains as before: that the threshold has been met to use Article 16 safeguards in order to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, if solutions cannot be found.”

Downing Street on Friday dismissed suggestions there was a disagreement in the negotiation strategy between the Prime Minister and Lord Frost.

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