David Davis has backed Lord Frost’s warning to the European Union that Britain is ready to invoke Article 16 of the Treaty. Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, suggested that action on Northern Ireland’s Brexit settlement may be taken before Christmas, calling for “short, intensive” discussions with the EU to begin as soon as possible.
After European officials react to UK ideas, which he anticipates “within the next couple of weeks,” the Tory peer said on Monday that “serious” conversations with Brussels should take place.
If the UK and the EU cannot reach an agreement, Lord Frost has stated that the UK will contemplate the nuclear option of invoking Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
David Davis, the former Brexit Secretary, has warned the EU to “shape up.”
“[Lord Frost] is doing the right thing,” Mr Davis stated to GB News. “This problem started right back in December 2017 when Theresa May gave into the Irish to have full alignment.”
“We’ve not got off that hook since.”
“Although Boris struggled to do it, Lord Frost himself struggled to do it – they didn’t get off the hook.”
“We’re still stuck in a position where Northern Ireland is sort of a member of the European Union in a way, that’s how the rules work.”
“If it works the way the Europeans want it to work, it will put a border down the Irish Sea that will cause problems for the operation of business in Northern Ireland but also for the Good Friday Agreement.”
“Lord Frost has got the moral high ground in this,” he continued, “the European Union has got to shape up.”
Lord Frost said he would “soon be sending” new legal texts to the EU with ideas to fix the “serious political problem” at the Conservative Party convention in Manchester.
“I hope that might change over the next couple of weeks or so.” “It does need to be resolved though, one way or another, whether it’s through negotiations or Article 16,” he said at a Policy Exchange think tank fringe event.
“We need a short, intensive, and good faith talk process to happen quite soon, and as we come out of that, we will know if an agreement is possible or not – and if it’s not possible, then obviously we will be looking into Article 16.”
“But we need to try everything. We need to show that we’ve tried everything, and we need to see if it is possible to agree to something.”
When asked if Christmas might resolve the concerns around Article 16, the Conservative peer replied that it was unlikely.
“Will it be over by Christmas?” Frost asks. He replied cryptically, “I think something will be over by Christmas”.
Article 16 will not be triggered “randomly,” he added, adding that the correct procedure would be followed to give traders in the region the “maximum possible predictability and certainty.”
The treaty effectively retains Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods. Still, it imposes a trade barrier on goods crossing the Irish Sea from the United Kingdom as a result.
Unionists want Prime Minister Boris Johnson to rip it up, something he has so far refrained from doing while the government pushes for a renegotiation with Brussels.