The UK has demanded “significant” changes to Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit trading arrangements but has held back from tearing up parts of the deal.
Brexit minister Lord Frost said “we cannot go on as we are” but held back from using provisions in the deal which could allow elements of it to be suspended – although he claimed the conditions allowing him to do so had been met.
He warned the “purist” way the Northern Ireland Protocol was being implemented was causing economic and societal damage.
Lord Frost called for a “standstill” period maintaining existing grace periods allowing the flow of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
But he also said his plans to resolve the difficulties would require a “significant change to the Northern Ireland Protocol” and “we do not shy away from that”.
The Protocol, part of the Brexit divorce deal signed by Boris Johnson and negotiated by Lord Frost, effectively keeps Northern Ireland in the European Union’s single market for goods.
This means checks on goods being sent from Great Britain into the single market – and in some cases could result in prohibitions on certain products that do not comply with EU rules.