The EU and UK are still grappling over the Northern Ireland protocol as Brussels offers up proposals to try and break the deadlock. The bloc published two plans to try and put an end to the post-Brexit deadlock, focused on food imports and medicine. It comes after the grace period – which enabled imports of food to continue flowing into Northern Ireland without checks – was extended a further three months.
However, the UK Government has argued that the EU’s pitch does not go far enough, with London calling for more wholesale changes to the Northern Ireland protocol.
A UK government spokesperson said the EU proposals represented “only a small subset of the many difficulties caused by the way the protocol is operating”.
They added: “We need comprehensive and durable solutions if we are to avoid further disruption to everyday lives in Northern Ireland.”
Meanwhile, Brexit Minister Lord David Frost has argued that the medicines proposed is still too complicated.
But, Irish MEP Billy Kelleher tells Express.co.uk that Lord Frost and the UK Government either didn’t know what the agreement was comprised of or they are are “acting in bad faith” due to their failure to abide by the Brexit withdrawal agreement.
He said: “It’s hard to understand Lord Frost because his signature is at the bottom of that agreement, he signed that agreement. Either he didn’t understand what he was signing in the first place or he is now acting in bad faith.
“Either way it is problematic from his perspective that the agreement he advocated for is now an agreement he no longer supports.
“I think there’s a lot of politics at work here, particularly from the UK, and it is infuriating and annoying because it is undermining the unique position Northern Ireland has in the world.”
Mr Kelleher, the MEP for Ireland South in the European Parliament, said the issues with the protocol can be resolved but only if the UK makes an effort to be “constructive”.
He added: “Unfortunately what has happened here is that the protocol has been elevated to a political level.
“It is disappointing that we continue to see almost provocation from the UK in terms of what needs to be done to address the protocol – it is an international agreement, it was signed by the EU and the UK, and it was ratified by Westminster Parliament.
“The difficulty here is the UK don’t seem to be playing any constructive role in trying to resolve the problems within the protocol. With the EU’s goodwill and the UK making some effort to be constructive we can resolve those issues.”
After the EU and the UK reached a deal in December last year, Lord Frost hailed it as “one of the biggest and broadest agreements ever”, saying it ensured the UK “sets its own laws again.”
He added: “All choices are in our hands as a country and it’s now up to us to decide how we use them and how we go forward in the future.”
But Brexiteers have since railed against the deal, specifically the Northern Ireland protocol.
In February, Tory Brexiteers demanded the protocol be scrapped.
The European Research Group (ERG) published a report which concluded the Northern Ireland Protocol had a “profound and negative effect”.
ERG chairman Mark Francois said: “We will no doubt be told that the EU will never renegotiate the protocol – just as we were repeatedly assured they would never reopen the Withdrawal Agreement, or indeed abandon the dreaded ‘backstop’, which the protocol eventually replaced when they subsequently did both.”