Saturday, 17 Apr 2021

Frost ‘playing games’ over Brexit – ex-mandarin breaks cover to claim UK ‘burning trust’

Brexit Britain is ‘full of opportunities’ says John Redwood

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Former permanent secretary to the Department for Exiting the EU Philip Rycroft, claimed Lord Frost is not accepting responsibility over Brexit. Speaking today, he urged Lord Frost and the Prime Minister to stop playing hardball with the EU and resolve issues surrounding trade in Northern Ireland. Following the decision to unilaterally extend the grace period for goods moving between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, Mr Rycroft warned trust is now being burnt with the EU.

The former civil servant also blamed ministers for not being honest with the public over elements of the Northern Ireland protocol.

He told the Westminster Hour: “Extending those grace periods is not an unreasonable thing to ask for.

“But the way that David Frost has gone about this suggests that they’re still playing games around Brexit.

“It’s all about the politically attractive ploy of playing hardball with the EU, rather than accepting their responsibilities for the deal that he and the Prime Minister negotiated.

“It’s going to require a huge amount of goodwill and trust on both sides.

“I’m afraid that trust is being burnt at the moment.”

In order to ease trade for businesses, the UK extended the grace period for goods to October this year before it lapsed at the end of this month.

This came after a meeting between Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, and EU Commission vice-President Maros Sefcovic where the pair discussed issues in Northern Ireland last week.

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However, following the meeting, Mr Sefcovic denied the UK’s request to extend the period.

Mr Gove had hoped for the period to be extended until 2023 in order to ease trade issues.

After extending the grace period for goods, EU officials accused the UK of breaking an international agreement for the second time.

In response, Lord Frost claimed the extension was justified under the Northern Ireland protocol.


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He instead claimed the EU had proven the ability to trigger article 16 after it threatened to bloc vaccines entering Britain via Northern Ireland.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, he said: “Unfortunately, the action taken by the EU in late January on their vaccines regulation, and the improper invocation of Article 16, has significantly undermined cross-community confidence in the Protocol.

“As the government of the whole of our country we have to deal with that situation – one that remains fragile.

“That is why we have had to take some temporary operational steps to minimise disruption in Northern Ireland.

“They are lawful and are consistent with a progressive and good faith implementation of the Protocol.

“They are about protecting the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland, making sure they can receive parcels and buy the usual groceries from the supermarket.

“Without this threat of disruption, we can continue our discussions with the EU to resolve difficulties arising from the Protocol constructively – and we aim to do so.”

The EU has instead labelled the move as a violation of the terms of the agreement and warned legal action would be imminent.

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