The former Brexit Minister has expressed hope warming relations in the West following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine might facilitate the coming together of officials working on Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations. But he stressed if a workable agreement is not reached soon, desperate measures will have to be taken.
Lord Frost said in a post on Twitter it is time to “move on from the bitterness of the Brexit era”.
This, he said, should feature a “new bargain with the EU”, found by officials both in London and Brussels.
He laid out the steps that could be taken by negotiators on both sides of the equation to ensure a smooth transition into a workable post-Brexit settlement over Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost said: “That new bargain could be based on a firm EU commitment to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol and to deal with the very evident problems now arising…
“In return for such a commitment, the UK could take Article 16 off the table, find some new arrangements on foreign policy cooperation and agree some pragmatic improvements on mobility which do not compromise the end of free movement.”
This, Lord Frost stressed, was in “everyone’s interest” – and could, indeed, be more likely given the “new atmosphere prevailing” due to events in the East.
If not, the risk for the EU was quite clear.
The former Minister told Brussels officials: “If such a bargain can’t be reached, Article 16 will become inevitable.
It is, as such, unclear whether triggering Article 411 of the TCA would make any material difference to problems that have risen under the Protocol.
Lord Frost’s adjoining comments appeared to suggest working through disputes over the post-Brexit settlement in Northern Ireland would be a step towards “putting the West back together”.
Commenting on Russia’s invasion of its neighbouring country, he said: “The time is now right for a new organisational arrangement for the wider West, going beyond Europe and North America, allowing more cooperation and joint working.
“Let’s rebuild relations across our continent, let’s be robust in resisting those who want to do us harm and let’s begin the process of putting the West back together.”
Cornerstone Global Associates Ghanem Nuseibeh told Express.co.uk the UK will be the one leading the way on uniting the West and its allies, noting Britain “has been a leader in the Western world” in response to Moscow’s actions.
Talks on the Northern Ireland Protocol itself have, however, so far almost always been followed by reports of amicable discussions that have failed to reach breakthroughs.