Brexit: Frost Declines Publishing Northern Ireland Legal Text

Lord Frost, who has already shared the legal text with the EU said there was not a “new stage or evolution in our position.”

Brexit: Frost Declines Publishing Northern Ireland Legal Text
Brexit: Frost Declines Publishing Northern Ireland Legal Text

Brexit minister, Lord Frost has declined publishing details government’s plans for changes to the Northern Ireland protocol in a move viewed as a deliberate evasion of being scrutinised by the opposition party.

Lord Frost, who has already shared the legal text with the EU said there was not a “new stage or evolution in our position” but simply a reflection of the UK’s position set out earlier in the summer.

However, having claimed that the text contains nothing beyond what has been disclosed in the past, Frost said he would not be publishing it neither will he allow parliament to take a look at it.

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“It’s a negotiating documents for the purposes of negotiations. It does not change the UK government’s position in any way,” Frost said.

He also suggested that the government had not explicitly conferred with ministers in Northern Ireland during the process of drafting the final legal text.

Reacting to a question on whether he had done so, Frost said: “We discuss with elected politicians all the time in Northern Ireland, what our position is. We did that as part of preparing the command paper.” The command paper was an earlier document published on 21 July.

Baroness Chapman, Labour’s shadow Brexit minister and Keir Starmer’s former chief of staff, has faulted Frost’s approach.

“Instead of making Brexit work, his high handed bluster and lack of plan is holding up progress and prolonging uncertainty,” Chapman said.

“This is damaging the UK’s international reputation, risks instability in Northern Ireland and is all completely unnecessary. Perhaps he just likes the drama.”

The UK government negotiated the Northern Ireland protocol in 2019, but is now desperate to re-write a significant fraction of it.

Boris Johnson’s government believes the Brexit deal, which creates new bureaucracy for businesses, has greatly disrupted trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The decision to re-negotiate the deal echoes as a sharp contrast to the Prime Minister’s remarks two years ago when he lauded the deal as a “great achievement,” and showered encomiums on Lord Frost for negotiating it.

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Last week, the EU published a proposal wherein it made concessions to some of the UK government’s demands.

The concessions, which would imply a reduction in checks and paperwork needed for lorries was acceptable to the government. However, Frost had insisted on the removal of the European Court of Justice as the instrument of arbitration in event of a conflict between both parties.

The UK and the EU are still embroiled in the deadlock regarding the role of the ECJ in the deal.

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