BREXIT Minister Lord Frost has warned that Britain “cannot wait forever” for the EU to make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in a speech made at the Conservative Party Conference.
Speaking in Manchester this morning, Lord Frost told party delegates: “I want to say a particular word about one part of our United Kingdom - Northern Ireland.
“The Northern Ireland Protocol is not working and needs to change.”
He went on to claim that while the British Government agreed to the Protocol in “that difficult autumn of 2019”, they “wanted to negotiate something better”.
“We knew we were taking a risk - but a worthy one, in the cause of peace and protecting the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement. It was the right thing to do,” he explained.
“It ended constitutional crisis. It meant our country could leave the EU, whole, free, and with real choices about the future.”
He added: “Of course we wanted to negotiate something better. If it had not been for the madness of the Surrender Act, we could have done so.
“And we worried right from the start that the Protocol would not take the strain if not handled sensitively.
“As it has turned out - we were right. The arrangements have begun to come apart even more quickly than we feared.
“Thanks to the EU’s heavy-handed actions, cross-community political support for the Protocol has collapsed.
“The Protocol itself is now undermining the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement.”
Lord Frost further revealed at the conference that he has devised a new set of legal texts regarding making amendments to the Protocol which follow his proposals set out in July,
He confirmed that those texts will soon be sent to the EU.
“We await a formal response from the EU to our proposals,” he said, “but from what I hear I worry that we will not get one which enables the significant change we need.”
He added: “So I urge the EU to be ambitious. It’s no use tinkering around the edges. We need significant change.
“If we can agree something better, we can get back to where we wanted to be - an independent Britain with friendly relations with the EU based on free trade.
“But we cannot wait for ever," he warned.
“Without an agreed solution soon, we will need to act, using the Article 16 safeguard mechanism, to address the impact the Protocol is having on Northern Ireland.
“That may in the end be the only way to protect our country - our people, our trade, our territorial integrity, the peace process, and the benefits of this great UK of which we are all part."