Lord Frost provides update on Northern Ireland protocol
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Dr Timothy Bradshaw, a theological lecturer and Anglican clergyman as well as a regular contributor to the Briefings for Britain website, was speaking the day after Lord Frost delivered a statement in the Upper House in which he called on the EU to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol. However, the former UK Brexit negotiator nevertheless stopped short of triggering Article 16, the mechanism which would disapply it.
The bloc was quick to respond in the negative, with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen telling Prime Minister Boris Johnson in a phone call there would be no such renegotiation.
Dr Bradshaw told Express.co.uk: “Lord Frost’s Command Paper has been immediately rejected by the EU and its usual playlist of supporters from Joe Biden, to Rutte, to Germans, the Irish, attacking the UK for seeking a reasonable outcome for Northern Ireland citizens, has again been switched on as usual.
“What this playlist of supporters of a fundamentalist implementation of harm to Northern Ireland never mentions is that Article 16 is part of what was signed up to, by the EU as well as the UK.
“To trigger Article 16 is therefore entirely within what was signed up to.”
Lord Frost’s Command Paper proved all the conditions for triggering Article 16 were now present and that the UK could trigger it “quite legitimately and legally”, Dr Bradshaw claimed.
He explained: “It states that UK or the EU can unilaterally suspend aspects of the Protocol’s operation if it is causing ‘serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties that are liable to persist’.
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“That is now the case, and the presence of this Article in the Northern Ireland Protocol shows that just this kind of outcome was very possible, hence the need for the article.
“Why has Lord Frost not triggered it? For no very good reason: basically it would be temporary, but in fact, it would last as long as the problems persist.
“And only some of the Northern Ireland Protocol aspects would be cancelled: is that not a good reason to trigger it? Why is it such a big deal?”
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As for the EU, he asked: “Why is the EU persisting with its purely political revenge policy which is picking open the healing scab of Ireland, quite cynically?”
Speaking after Mr Johnson’s telephone call with Ms von der Leyen, a Downing Street spokesman said: “The Prime Minister set out that the way the Protocol was currently operating was unsustainable.
“Solutions could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the Protocol.
“That was why we had set out proposals for significant changes to it.”
The Prime Minister had urged the EU to look at the proposals seriously and work with the UK on them, the spokesman said.
He added: “There is a huge opportunity to find reasonable, practical solutions to the difficulties facing people and businesses in Northern Ireland, and thereby to put the relationship between the UK and the EU on a better footing. They agreed to remain in touch.”
Mr Johnson also outlined his concerns in a telephone call with Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel.
The Number 10 spokesman said: “The Prime Minister underlined that solutions could not be found through the existing mechanisms of the Protocol and that was why we had set out proposals for significant changes to it.
“He urged the Chancellor and the EU collectively to engage in a constructive and detailed discussion on the UK’s proposals.”
Former German Defence Minister Ms Von der Leyen underscored the EU’s position in a tweet in which she said: “The EU will continue to be creative and flexible within the Protocol framework. But we will not renegotiate.
“We must jointly ensure stability and predictability in Northern Ireland.”
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