UK ministers are preparing to present their proposals to Westminster to solve the “serious challenges” posed by the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Boris Johnson used a phone call yesterday with his Dublin counterpart Michel Martin to urge “pragmatism” in order to fix problems created under post-Brexit terms, as reports suggest the UK will set itself on a collision course with the EU. proposed solutions.
The Financial Times said Brexit Secretary David Frost, who is due to make a statement to his peers today, will outline a strategy that seeks to eliminate most inspections of goods transported between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Frost told Parliament’s European audit committee that the only way to make the protocol work was to “significantly reduce or remove the barriers” that have effectively created a border under the Irish Sea since it came into force in January.
In an effort to achieve that goal, the Financial Times said Frost would push for an “honesty fund” approach to allow companies in Great Britain that declare their goods for sale and use in Northern Ireland to bypass border checks.
The protocol was negotiated as part of Britain’s divorce from Brussels to avoid a difficult border with Ireland, by effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.
But the introduction of checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea has angered unionists, who have protested against it in recent months, arguing that the terms of Brexit have weakened Northern Ireland’s links with the rest of the UK.
The UK government also said that checks and extra red tape had caused a slump in trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.
Separately, US State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters that it will monitor events in the UK.
He added: “As we have consistently said over time, we support a close relationship between the UK and the EU, and encourage them to negotiate within existing mechanisms when differences arise.
“We have consistently said we welcome provisions in both the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement and the Northern Ireland Protocol, which, importantly, help protect the gains of the Belfast Agreement and Good Friday.”
Frost is due to make a statement to his peers about the solutions he proposed to the protocol
During a conversation with Taoiseach, Boris Johnson reminded his counterpart that the protocol needed to protect the peace in Northern Ireland “in all its dimensions” – a reference to the need for it to satisfy both nationalists and unionists.
Following the phone call yesterday, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: “The Prime Minister has confirmed that the way the protocol currently operates is causing significant disruption to people in Northern Ireland.
He made clear the UK government’s commitment to protecting the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions.
He said that the EU must show pragmatism and solutions to deal with the serious challenges that have arisen with the Protocol.
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“The Prime Minister said the UK government will set out its approach on the Northern Ireland Protocol to Parliament tomorrow.”
Taoiseach told Johnson that proposals due to be announced in Westminster will be “carefully considered”, according to the Irish government.
Martin also stressed that there is a framework between the European Union and the United Kingdom to deal with issues related to the Protocol.
The men were due to meet in person in the UK, until Johnson was asked to self-isolate after close contact with Health Minister Sajid Javid, who tested positive for coronavirus at the weekend.
Frost – who negotiated the UK’s divorce from the European Union – told MPs on Monday that the UK government “keeps all options on the table” to resolve issues around the protocol, including triggering Article 16, which would allow for the unilateral cancellation of the agreement. .
The Financial Times said Frost, whose statement to the House of Commons will be read by Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis, is preparing to tell the EU that the UK is within its rights to trigger Article 16 due to the disruption caused by the protocol.