UK Brexit Negotiator: Northern Ireland Deal Hurting Consumers, Businesses, Peace Process

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Lord Frost, Britain’s chief Brexit negotiator and current head of Task Force Europe, has admitted that the Northern Ireland protocol of the EU deal is damaging businesses, consumers, and community relations in Ulster.

Writing in The Times, the Cabinet Office minister conceded that the “rigid implementation” of the Northern Ireland provisions of the deal Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed with the European Union have “severely disrupted trade; adversely affected consumers; hit businesses in Northern Ireland and Great Britain; and contributed to political instability.”

During the Brexit negotiations, the EU insisted that the open border between the Republic of Ireland — an EU member-state — and Northern Ireland (an integral part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as the name suggests) must remain open in order to preserve the peace between British unionists and the Irish nationalist minority in the territory.

However, the bloc also insisted that an open border like this would only be possible if Northern Ireland remained largely under its control for the purposes of customs and regulation, in many respects. The British government largely accepted this narrative, for whatever reason, with the establishment of what amounts to an internal border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom established as an alternative to introducing border controls with the Republic of Ireland — a foreign state.

While Britain’s governing Conservative Party suggested that the terms of the Northern Ireland protocol were good and that items from Great Britain destined for Northern Ireland rather than continuing on to the Republic of Ireland in the EU would be largely unaffected, this, as Lord Fost now admits, has not been the case.

Indeed, according to the British government the EU — which does a huge volume of global trade at ports such as Rotterdam and has land borders with countries including Morocco, Turkey, Russia, and Belarus, which is currently flooding one if its member-states with Iraqi migrants as a political weapon — is conducting a massively disproportionate one-fifth of all its border checks in Northern Ireland, which many Brexiteers regard as evidence of bad faith on the part of Brussels.

“As the government of the whole United Kingdom, it is our job to deliver something that works for all people in Northern Ireland,” Lord Frost wrote in The Times, describing proposed changes to the protocol which the Johnson administration is making as a result of the “pettifogging enforcement” of border regulations by the EU leading retailers such as Mars & Spencer to warn that shelves are being left bare in Northern Ireland and onward to trade to the Republic of Ireland drastically reduced.

“[W]e are proposing an ambitious compromise built on concepts already in the protocol — with the UK accepting a continuing responsibility to help to protect the EU single market by applying EU customs rules to goods going via Northern Ireland into the single market, but in return for which goods must be able to flow much more easily into, and within, Northern Ireland,” Frost said.

“To make this work, we must also take out of the protocol the arrangements whereby the rules we apply are set directly by the EU and policed by the European Court of Justice. That has not worked well — indeed it has arguably made problems worse — and it is not right for the unique and delicate situation in Northern Ireland,” he added, referring to the violence which has taken place in the province as residents loyal to Britain grow increasingly unhappy at the way they have been sold out to appease potential terrorists opposed to checks at the border with EU Ireland.

“The ball is now in the EU’s court. I urge the EU to think carefully about our proposals, with preserving the gains of the peace process firmly at the top of their minds. There is a huge prize on offer: stability in Northern Ireland and a better relationship between us as Europeans,” Frost concluded.

Predictably, the EU — which is suffering no obvious ill consequences as a result of the damage it is inflicting on its former member-state — has already shot down the idea of mutually beneficial compromise in flames, with European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic spelling out in no uncertain terms that “We will not agree to a renegotiation.”

Indeed, the bloc appears to be following up Lord Frost’s call for renegotiation by escalating legal action against the United Kingdom for not submitting to the Northern Ireland protocol fully enough, with it being possible that British will soon be dragged before an EU Court of Justice which might not be expected to give them an entirely impartial hearing.

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