D.he minister responsible for relations with Brussels, David Frost, used the Conservative Congress to intensify threats against the European Union. In a speech to the delegates in Manchester on Monday, he said that Great Britain would suspend the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol in the exit treaty if the ongoing negotiations with the EU Commission do not quickly lead to a satisfactory result. Great Britain could “not wait forever” and would put the “protective mechanism” of Article 16 of the Treaty into force, unless the European Union moves “soon”.
In his speech, which he gave to a few interested parties at the party congress, Frost confirmed that the British government had finalized a legal text that de facto overrides the Northern Ireland Protocol. This text will be sent to the Commission in Brussels in the next few days. The aim of the reformulation is to re-regulate the agreed controls on goods delivered from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom, the province of Northern Ireland, which borders the EU member state Ireland, remained a member of the European customs union after Brexit and adheres to the EU internal market rules. Frost’s ministry is of the opinion that London’s actions are legally in accordance with the protocol.
Simply “mending the corners” will not be enough
As part of a “ceasefire”, the EU Commission recently accepted the transitional rules for numerous goods checks that were extended indefinitely by London. But Frost expects further concessions that Brussels has not yet been ready to grant. In the “Command Paper” that Frost presented in July, for example, it is required that all goods that go from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and are not suitable for sale in the EU internal market should be exempted from the controls. The European Court of Justice should also no longer play a role in trade disputes. The EU Commission has spoken out against most of the demands of the Command Papers and will soon submit its own proposals.
A mere “mending the corners” will not be enough, said Frost in Manchester. Only a substantial renegotiation of the protocol will enable both partners to “have friendly relations based on free trade.” London is also expected to impose punitive tariffs on imports from the UK.
Regardless of the labor shortage and various supply bottlenecks, Frost drew a positive balance of the exit from the EU. He mentioned newly agreed bilateral free trade agreements, the new point-based immigration system and other changes in the law. History shows “that democratic countries with free economies that leave their citizens more of what they earn in their pockets, make their own decisions and determine their own lives, are not only richer, but are happier and more admired by others.” Frost was happy about the end of the “long bad dream of our EU membership” and said: “The British renaissance has begun.”