The minister said that the Northern Ireland Protocol is the “biggest source of mistrust” between the UK and EU as he called for the protocol to be revised.
“I do understand why the EU finds it difficult to come back to an agreement that was reached only two years ago. Though obviously, that in itself is far from unusual in international relations,” Lord Frost said.
“Equally, there’s a widespread feeling in the UK that the EU did try to use Northern Ireland to encourage UK political forces to reverse the referendum result, or at least to keep us closely aligned with EU.”
It came as eleven European countries signed a declaration criticising the UK over its “inappropriate” stance towards post-Brexit fishing arrangements – the government of Jersey announced in late September that only a small number of French vessels would be given fishing permits to work in its waters.
Lord Frost’s ‘aggressive’ speech designed to divide Europe, political scientist says
Brexit minister Lord Frost’s speech in Lisbon today was “aggressive” and delivered in a way that was designed to divide Europe, a political scientist has said.
Dominique Moisi, who is a senior adviser at the Paris-based Institut Montaigne, told BBC Radio 4’s PM programme that it was significant for the speech to be delivered in the Portuguese capital.
“A very eloquent, intellectually brilliant and rather aggressive text, and the fact that it was delivered in Lisbon in Portugal is a perfect symbol of what the British have tried to do during the Brexit negotiations and failed, i.e. to divide the Europeans,” Mr Moisi said.
“He [Lord Frost] is reiterating the British position from Lisbon, the oldest ally, he has repeatedly said so, of Great Britain, and he goes on saying, ‘well, we have people in Central Europe, Eastern Europe, who think exactly like us on the basic issue of relationship with the United States.’ So it’s divide and rule again.”
The political scientist added that he thought the UK’s relationship with France was now similar to the tense one between the EU and Russia.
“What is frightening to my mind is that we are now entering a world in which France and Great Britain deal with each other the way Russia deals with the European Union,” Mr Moisi said.
“Russia is telling us in the most clear manner, ‘well if you want to keep warm this winter, and the winter is going to be cold, you have to stop criticising what we say and what we do and what we are as Russia’.
“Who would have thought that the kind of relationship we have with Russia would apply, at least would seem to apply, to a relationship between Paris and London.”
Ministers should stop picking ‘needless fights’ with EU, Lib Dem official says
The UK government should work with “our friends and neighbours” in Europe instead of picking “needless fights” with the EU, the Liberal Democrats have said in response to Lord Frost’s speech this afternoon.
Liberal Democrat home affairs and Northern Ireland spokesperson Alistair Carmichael said on Tuesday that Boris Johnson’s government was “playing out like a badly written farce”.
“The same minister who just months ago was trumpeting the government’s botched Brexit deal now says it’s intolerable and has to be changed,” Mr Carmichael said.
“After all the upheaval British businesses have suffered and all the challenges they face now, they need certainty and support from the government, not more pointless posturing.
“The solution to disruption and shortages is working together with our friends and neighbours, not picking needless fights.”
Lord Frost says UK would ‘prefer’ not to trigger Article 16
Brexit minister Lord Frost has said that the UK government would “prefer” not to trigger Article 16 to suspend parts of the withdrawal agreement with the EU, but it will “look seriously” at the option.
“It’s not what we would prefer to do, you know, we would much prefer to find the consensus on this subject, that’s absolutely clear, and as I said, of course, we will look seriously at what the commission proposes,” he said on Tuesday.
“I know that a lot of effort will have gone into what we get tomorrow from the commission, we take that very seriously.”
The minister added: “We will, of course, look at it seriously and we very much want to get into talks about it, as well as what we have put on the table, so that is the best way forward.
“If we can find consensus that is much better for everybody, but it’s got to be a consensus that deals with the situation. If it doesn’t, there are other tools in the protocol.”
Hard Brexit was only way to give UK freedom, Lord Frost claims
A hard Brexit was the only way to give the UK freedom from the EU, Lord Frost has claimed, arguing that this was what the British public expected when they backed leaving the bloc in 2016.
“History shows us that it is genuine competition – regulatory and commercial – between states which has typically been the most reliable driver of innovation and progress,” the Brexit minister said.
“That’s why what some people call, I quote, ‘hard Brexit’ – in its original sense of leaving the EU customs union and single market – was essential.
“It was the only form of Brexit that allowed us freedom to experiment and freedom to act.”
He added: “In Britain people voted for change, that’s what they expect and that’s what’s happening.”
Lord Frost also said that it would be up to the EU to decide if it wanted to have a trade war with the UK over the potential triggering of Article 16 to unilaterally take action over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“It would be for the EU to decide whether it makes sense to retaliate,” the minister said.
“I don’t think it would make the situation any better by doing so, it won’t help the situation in Northern Ireland but obviously that’s not in our hands.”
Lord Frost accuses the EU of not wanting UK to succeed
Lord Frost said the UK is “constantly faced with generalised accusations that can’t be trusted.”
The Brexit minister listed tensions between the two sides including the vaccine ban earlier this year, threats to energy supplies and a “needless ban on the import of most shellfish to the EU, causing significant pain to our fishermen.”
Lord Frost said: “So, with all this in mind, we can’t help taking it with a pinch of salt when we are told that the EU has stopped thinking about the UK and it is we who are still obsessed with Brexit.
“Actually we are not. There is no electoral dividend in endlessly talking about Brexit, quite the reverse. That is why the PM barely mentioned it in his party conference speech last week.”
“What we do see instead is an organisation that doesn’t always look like it wants us to succeed.”
Lord Frost accused the EU of using Northern Ireland to try to reverse the referendum result
The Brexit minister said: “The Northern Ireland Protocol is the biggest source of mistrust between us and for all kinds of reasons we need to fix this problem.
“I do understand why the EU finds it difficult to come back to an agreement that was reached only two years ago. Though obviously, that in itself is far from unusual in international relations,” he said.
Lord Frost added: “Equally, there’s a widespread feeling in the UK that the EU did try to use Northern Ireland to encourage UK political forces to reverse the referendum result, or at least to keep us closely aligned with EU.
Lord Frost added that the protocol, formerly hailed a great deal by Boris Johnson “represents a moment of EU overreach” when the UK’s negotiating hand was tied.
Lord Frost said the deal cannot continue to exist in its current form.