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UK threatens to suspend Northern Ireland protocol – follow live


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The government has issued a fresh warning to the EU that it is not afraid to unilaterally suspend the Northern Ireland (NI) protocol agreed by Boris Johnson last year if officials continue to dismiss renegotiations.

Brexit minister David Frost told the House of Lords on Monday night that the EU should take the UK’s proposals to renegotiate part of the Protocol “seriously” if it wanted to avoid Article 16 being invoked, which allows either side to suspend the arrangement if it is deemed as having a significant impact on everyday life.

“They would be making a significant mistake if they thought we were not ready to use Article 16 safeguards if that is our only choice to deal with the situation in front of us,” Lord Frost told peers.

It comes days after his Brussels counterpart, Maros Sefcovic, the joint head of the EU-UK partnership council, told NI’s Democratic Unionist party (DUP) to “dial down the rhetoric” after it threatened to collapse Stormont over the feud.

Meanwhile, the PM is mourning the death of his 79-year-old mother, the artist Charlotte Johnson Wahl. She died “suddenly and peacefully” at a London hospital on Monday, according to a death notice issued by the family in The Times.

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‘Take renegotiations seriously or we will abandon Protocol,’ Frost warns EU

The row over Brexit and Northern Ireland (NI) has escalated after Britain warned last night it is prepared to unilaterally suspend the NI protocol trading agreement with the EU.

Lord Frost, the Brexit minister, told the House of Lords on Monday night that his July command paper had set out the tests the UK would apply to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, which allows either side to suspend the Protocol if it is deemed as having a significant impact on everyday life.

“I urge the EU to take this seriously. They would be making a significant mistake if they thought that we were not ready to use Article 16 safeguards, if that is our only choice to deal with the situation in front of us. If we are to avoid Article 16, there must be a real negotiation between us and the EU.”

It is not the first time the government has issued such a warning. Back in June, while the G7 summit was underway in Cornwall, Boris Johnson told Sky News he would do “whatever it takes” to make things right for Northern Ireland – including invoking Article 16.

The EU has repeatedly responded to such claims by saying it will not be “bullied” into changing its mind. “We will not agree to a renegotiation of the Protocol,” said Maros Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, in an official statement in July.

Britain’s demands include abandoning full Irish Sea trade checks – due to start later this year, when “grace periods” expire – and for Brussels to shelve legal action for non-implementation of existing terms.

Sam Hancock14 September 2021 08:17

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Good morning, and welcome to The Independent’s rolling UK politics coverage. Stay tuned as we bring you the latest Brexit fallout and goings-on from inside Parliament.

Sam Hancock14 September 2021 08:03

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