UK FOREIGN Secretary Liz Truss is to become lead negotiator with the EU on the Northern Ireland Protocol, following the resignation of Lord David Frost.
In his resignation letter, Frost outlined how he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson agreed earlier this month that he would move on in January to "hand over the baton to others to manage our future relationship with the EU."
"Brexit is now secure," he said. "I hope we will move as fast as possible to where we need to get to: a lightly regulated, low-tax, entrepreneurial economy, at the cutting edge of modern science and economic change.
"Three hundred years of history show that countries which take that route grow and prosper, and I am confident we will too."
Liz Truss will now take over Ministerial responsibility for the UK’s relationship with the European Union with immediate effect.
She will become the UK’s co-chair of the Partnership Council and the Joint Committee, and will lead the ongoing negotiations to resolve the problems arising from the current operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Chris Heaton-Harris will become Minister of State for Europe and will deputise for the Foreign Secretary as necessary on EU Exit and the Protocol.
Truss previously backed 'Remain' in the Brexit referendum before becoming a supporter of Brexit, and is seen as a future leader of the Conservative party.
Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney welcomed the appointment of Ms Truss and said "progress is achievable in the new year".
I welcome the appointment of @trussliz as UKG Brexit negotiator. I’ve worked well with Liz previously in Agriculture & more recently in Foreign Affairs.
I look forward to working with her now on #Brexit. Much work ahead but progress is achievable in the new year. #Brexit
— Simon Coveney (@simoncoveney) December 19, 2021
EU Commissioner Mairead McGuinness said on RTÉ's This Week programme that Boris Johnson should not appoint a hardline Brexiteer to the role, and that a refusal by the British to compromise was untenable.
"If the priority is simply to appease hardliners in [Boris Johnson's] Conservative Party, I think we are in a very bad place," Ms McGuinness she said.
"If people [in London] are of the view that there will be no compromise, then there will be no progress and that's untenable," she said.
"I would hope that the mood would be towards compromise and problem-solving, not Conservative Party politics, which I am afraid takes the eye off the real issues which will drag out this into next year, which is not good for Northern Ireland.
"It's not good for relationships between countries in the European Union and the UK."
Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said Frost undermined the Protocol ever since he began negotiating Brexit:
David Frost negotiated Brexit of which a majority here rejected. He has undermined the Protocol since, which limits the damage of Brexit on our people and economy. We now need momentum in the Talks to make it work better. The North will not be collateral damage in the Tory chaos.
— Michelle O’Neill (@moneillsf) December 18, 2021
DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP has said the departure of Lord Frost from the Cabinet is a bad sign for the Prime Minister’s commitment to removing the Irish Sea border.
"Whether on Northern Ireland’s access to medicines, our economic prosperity and trade with the rest of the United Kingdom or on the growing divergence between NI and GB, this Protocol has been a deeply damaging deal for the people we represent.
The Prime Minister must now urgently decide which is more important - the Protocol or the stability of the political institutions."