The Northern Ireland Protocol was incorporated into the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to help avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. It sees checks on goods arriving at ports across the island of Ireland from Great Britain as Northern Ireland remains part of the EU’s single market.
But unionists and loyalists have expressed anger at what they regard as a border in the Irish Sea and separation from the rest of the UK as well as affecting UK internal trade.
Protests have been ongoing across Northern Ireland, with the latest one last night seeing more than 100 police officers receiving injuries.
Express.co.uk has learnt Lord Frost is keen to get an agreement with the EU secured within six to eight weeks due to fears of further unionist and loyalist protests over the summer.
Celebrations including the Ulster Protestant, The Twelfth, kick off in July and the Cabinet Office minister fears this time could see tensions rise.
Lord Frost is also understood to want to secure a deal very soon over fears Brussels’ stance on enforcing the customs checks is not only forcing Ulster businesses to suffer but could also impact the Good Friday Agreement in the long term.
One Whitehall official close to Lord Frost said: “The Northern Ireland Protocol is causing chaos, we really want to reach a resolution as soon as possible.
“Northern Ireland is part of the UK internal market and it’s important this is respected.”
A UK Government source, added: “We have informed the EU that they need to show some flexibility to find an acceptable solution to the Northern Ireland protocol.
He added: “We’ve been very clear and made the point there is a process in place in terms of the discussions between David Frost, who was at the meeting, and Maros Sefcovic (EU commissioner).
“It is our view that the mechanisms that are within the Withdrawal Agreement can facilitate a resolution of these issues and should be continued with and should be pursued.
“It’s my view the European Union wants to be constructive in relation to this and that these trading issues, and many technical issues around these trading issues, can be resolved.
“Some progress has been made in respect of these talks and that process should continue.
“We listened very carefully to the UK perspective on this, we gave our perspective on it and this has been an agreement that was freely entered into by the UK Government with the European Union, it’s important in the early days that people work through these agreements and processes, the mechanisms contained within the agreements to resolve these issues.”
Published at Sat, 15 May 2021 11:30:00 +0000