NI Protocol issues ‘at heart of broader mistrust’ says Frost
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The DUP’s Sammy Wilson said Nicola Sturgeon will be keeping a close eye on how negotiations over the Brexit treaty are progressing. He warned if Lord Frost caved on his red lines in negotiations with the EU, separatists in Scotland would feel more buoyant about the prospects of independence.
He told Express.co.uk: “I think the Prime Minister has a job to do to keep the United Kingdom together.
“The eyes of the Scots will be on what he does with Northern Ireland.
“If he’s prepared to cut Northern Ireland loose, then I think Scottish nationalists will work on the basis of what do we have to do to make him come to the conclusion ‘they’re too much trouble, how do we get rid of them too’.”
Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a new Scottish independence referendum by the end of 2023.
The First Minister requires permission from the Westminster Government in order to hold a referendum but has vowed to hold one regardless.
She has suggested it would be for Mr Johnson to challenge the Scottish Government in the courts to prevent the fresh vote.
Mr Wilson argued that a failure to stand up for Northern Ireland in Protocol talks would be as good as proof that Mr Johnson would fold under pressure from the SNP.
Lord Frost has been arguing for months that the threshold has been reached for the UK to trigger Article 16 to legally suspend aspects of the Protocol.
He said Britain would not hesitate to use the mechanism if negotiations over the Protocol failed to yield results.
The Government has accused the EU of being overly strict in its implementation of the Protocol, causing frictions in trade between Britain and Northern Ireland.
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Both London and Brussels have published their plans to ease problems caused by the Brexit agreement but have failed to reach an agreed solution.
Last month, Lord Frost said talks should last no longer than three weeks but has since backtracked on his word, sparking concern amongst Unionists that he may cave to the EU.
He suggested there would need to be a solution by the middle of November.
Last week International Trade Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan suggested that triggering Article 16 would not be used until least January.
After fresh discussions with his EU counterpart yesterday, Lord Frost said: “European Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič and I met today in London to take stock of discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
We discussed the full range of issues causing difficulties in Northern Ireland.
“We would still like to find a negotiated solution. But the gap between our positions is still significant and we are ready to use Article 16 to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement if other solutions cannot be found.
“Technical discussions will continue next week and we will meet again next Friday.”
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