Post-Brexit showdown over Northern Ireland: London urges Brussels to respond

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British Secretary of State for Brexit David Frost again threatened the European Union on Monday to suspend the Northern Irish protocol in the event of no progress aimed at overhauling it within ten days .

The British government reiterated on Monday October 4 its threat to unilaterally suspend post-Brexit customs arrangements specific to Northern Ireland and asked the EU for a quick solution.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Conservative Party congress, Secretary of State for Brexit David Frost said he presented in Brussels proposals to overhaul the Northern Irish protocol and await a response from Brussels “within the next ten days about”.

“I think there will be a decisive moment, probably around the beginning of November, when we will know whether an agreement can be reached or not”, he added, affirming that “certain consequences will follow from it”.

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In the absence of “agreement on a quick solution”, David Frost had warned earlier today that the government would be forced to “act using the safeguard mechanism of Article 16”, which allows to pass in addition to certain provisions of the agreement in the event of “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

“This could ultimately be the only way to protect our country, our people, our trade, our territorial integrity, the peace process,” he said.

Engaged in a standoff with the EU, Boris Johnson’s government is calling for the renegotiation of the Northern Irish protocol, a request rejected by Brussels, which nevertheless says it is open to negotiations on the implementation of the text.

The EU must respond to the British proposals, “but from what I hear, I am concerned that we are not getting a response that allows for the meaningful changes we need,” said David Frost.

“The protocol itself undermines the Good Friday deal”

“We do not comment on the words or statements of our partners or any other stakeholder, whatever their nature, however lyrical or aggressive they are,” said Dana Spinant, deputy spokesperson for the European Commission. “We are working hard”, underlined his colleague Dan Ferrie, adding that the European response to the proposals is expected “soon”.

To avoid the return of a border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and thus preserve the peace, the Northern Irish protocol, bitterly negotiated within the framework of Brexit, in fact creates a customs border between the province British, which still benefits from the single European market, and the island of Great Britain.

But this text, at the origin of strong tensions in Northern Ireland, is scorned by the Unionists, attached to the maintenance of the province within the United Kingdom. They accuse him of disrupting supplies to the territory and creating a border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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In his speech, David Frost accused the EU of having “a heavy hand” and of being at the origin of “the collapse of cross-party support for the protocol”.

According to him, “the protocol itself undermines the Good Friday agreement”, which in 1998 ended three bloody decades of conflict between Republicans in favor of the unification of Ireland and unionists attached to the maintenance of the province at within the UK.

“I suspect that if we use Article 16, the EU will seek retaliatory measures through tariffs on goods for the whole of the UK,” David Frost added at a side event. , “I hope they don’t.”

Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis, meanwhile, ruled that the “structure of the protocol is unsustainable”, saying London is seeking “to negotiate a solution that is binding and lasting”.

With AFP

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