Monday, March 27

Liz Truss: New Brexit Minister Says UK Position on Northern Ireland Protocol Hasn’t Changed

The UK’s new Brexit minister wants dialogue on Northern Ireland issues to accelerate, but warned that London’s position “has not changed.”

Liz Truss was tasked with leading post-Brexit negotiations with the European Union on Sunday following the surprise resignation of Lord David Frost.

Frost, who had been in office since July 2019, is believed to have left due to concerns about the government’s “direction of travel” on certain issues, including COVID-19.

In a statement released Tuesday after his first phone call with EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic, Truss said the UK “wants a constructive relationship with the EU, backed by trade and our shared belief in freedom. and democracy “.

He also stressed that “the UK’s position has not changed.” “We need goods to flow freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, end the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as the final arbiter of disputes between us and resolve other issues.”

“We must accelerate the pace of talks into the New Year,” he urged, adding that the “UK’s preference remains to reach an agreed solution.”

Truss, 46, received the portfolio in addition to her current role as UK Foreign Minister.

Commentators were divided on what signal his appointment meant for the negotiations. Some saw it as a sign that London was ready to soften its stance (Truss campaigned for the UK to remain in the EU before the 2016 referendum), while others predicted that it would toughen its stance to win over Eurosceptics as it did. he proposed. one day he becomes the leader of the Conservative party.

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Her statement saw her reiterate a threat her predecessor often made to activate Article 16 to unilaterally suspend parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

The UK and the EU agreed to keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s single market for goods to avoid building a physical border between the province and the Republic of Ireland, an EU member state, which both London and Brussels envisioned that would endanger the peace on the island.

This has created a de facto border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Brussels has rejected calls from London to reopen the Protocol for negotiations and has called for changes to be made “within the frameworks” of the treaty.

It has offered concessions such as allowing the UK to unilaterally waive customs controls on certain products between Northern Ireland and Britain and last week unveiled a bill that would facilitate UK drug imports into Northern Ireland.

It has also stood firm in the role of the ECJ.

Sefcovic, for his part, also said after their conversation that “the position of the EU is known: stability and predictability.”

“I am committed to continuing to work towards a conclusive understanding with the UK on practical solutions for Northern Ireland stakeholders,” he said. wrote on Twitter.

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