Brexit minister admits Northern Ireland protocol having 'damaging impact'

Michael Gove was thought to be too soft on Brussels when he was the EU negotiator

Michael Gove was thought to be too soft on Brussels when he was the EU negotiator Credit Shutterstock

On the same note, David Frost, the British minister responsible for implementing the Brexit deal, said there were no breakthroughs and no breakdowns in N. Ireland Protocol talks with the EU.

Writing in the Daily Telegraph, EU vice-president Maros Sefcovic vowed Brussels would retaliate if the United Kingdom government took similar steps again, such as extending a grace period on checks on chilled meats due to end later this month.

"What we really now need to do is very urgently find some solutions which support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, support the peace process in Northern Ireland, and allow things to return to normal", he told reporters.

But the port checks on deliveries heading into Northern Ireland from mainland Great Britain - England, Scotland and Wales - have caused consternation in unionist communities, which maintain this changes their place in the wider UK.

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"EU citizens must have legal certainty if they are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement with Britain".

The UK has also extended the grace period for checks on British meat products heading to Northern Ireland, including sausages, until the end of this month.

Frost will meet European Union vice-president Maros Sefcovic, who on Tuesday wrote in Prime Minister Boris Johnson's former newspaper the Daily Telegraph that Brussels would retaliate if Britain again extended a grace period on checks on chilled meats. The EU has threatened legal action over that decision.

Urging Brussels to use the summit to find solutions for Northern Ireland, Lord Frost said: "Businesses in Great Britain are choosing not to sell their goods into Northern Ireland because of burdensome paperwork, medicine manufacturers are threatening to cut vital supplies, and chilled meats from British farmers destined for the Northern Ireland market are at risk of being banned entirely".

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Speaking ahead of the meeting, Lord Frost warned a solution was in the interests of both sides.

Eustice told LBC that the European Union had been "slow to engage" with efforts to iron out difficulties ahead of the ending of a grace period which allows Northern Irish shops to continue selling chilled meats - including sausages and mince. "This work is important, and it is ever more urgent". Maros Sefcovic, the EU's chief negotiator, cautioned against such action, saying the two sides should strive to achieve "mutually agreed compliance paths".

Maros Sefcovic, the commission vice president, called on the British government to respect "its global law obligations", saying Brussels would "not be shy" to respond to any unilateral action from London.

The Tory peer, who is a close ally of Boris Johnson, said "pragmatic solutions" must be found and did not rule out unilaterally extending the grace period on chilled meat exports between Britain and Northern Ireland.

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