Lord Frost says Brexit protocol must go
Lord Frost, who was formerly CEO of the Scotch Whisky Association, joined Nigel Farage on GB News’ Talking Pints show as the pair opted to share a pint of beer rather than sticking with the distilled spirit. But Lord Frost’s 15-minute appearance alongside Mr Farage also saw the ex-Brexit Minister call on the UK Government to take decisive action on the Northern Ireland Protocol. The deal had been signed between Brexit Britain and the Brussels bloc when Lord Frost was working as Boris Johnson’s Chief Negotiator for Exiting the European Union.
However, Lord Frost even told the ex-Brexit Party leader that “much of the EU doesn’t understand the niceties and the details and the history of the issues in Northern Ireland”.
He added: “In the end, I think they prioritised protecting their own single market over the Belfast Good Friday Agreement.
“I think, whatever the rights and wrongs of how we got here, the Protocol has to change or disappear.
“I think there is now no option.”
Before taking a sip of his pint, Lord Frost warned the UK could be left with “no other choice” as the EU appears uninterested in altering its negotiating position.
Speaking about what the UK could do next, he said: “We’re going to have to act.
“I don’t think there is any choice left to us, whether it is the famous Article 16 or an overwrite, I don’t think there’s another option to protect the Belfast Good Friday Agreement and the integrity of the country.”
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Lord Frostjoined Nigel Farage on GB News’ Talking Pints show.
Frost’s intervention comes as Sinn Fein, who have said they want to hold a border poll on Irish reunification in the next five years, became the first nationalist party to take up the leading posts in Stormont.
The Democratic Unionist Party, which had been the largest party in Ulster from 2003 to 2022, lost much of its support to Jim Allister’s hardline Traditional Unionist Voice, primarily after loyalist opposition to the Protocol grew.
The DUP could also torpedo efforts to form a Government in Stormont after Jeffrey Donaldson said he would not be nominating any ministers to the Northern Irish Executive.
The Lagan Valley MP said: “Until we get decisive action taken by the UK Government on the Protocol, we will not be nominating ministers to the Executive.”
Unionists suggest the Protocol poses a constitutional threat to the UK as they claim it has erected a border down the Irish Sea and kept Northern Ireland in the EU’s orbit while Great Britain has cut loose from Brussels.
However, it has even been estimated that the border down the Irish Sea could have cost Ulster £850million a year.
According to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, £10.9billion out of Ulster’s £22.1billion exports and £13.2billion out of £20.3billion imports went to the rest of the UK in 2020.
Lord Frost said the EU appears uninterested in altering its negotiating position.
Lord Frost’s interview with the ex-UKIP leader also included discussions about the diplomat’s Brexit journey and what Britain can achieve outside of the bloc.
Despite telling MSPs in the Scottish Parliament in 2015 that leaving the single market would cost the average Brit £1,500 a year, Lord Frost said he had Eurosceptic tendencies when his diplomatic career started in the 1990s.
When asked by Mr Farage if the Civil Service still regret the decision taken in 2016, Lord Frost told GB News: “I think it’s still there, it’s definitely been weakened since 2016, people have got used to the idea.”
However, Lord Frost also suggested Whitehall was struggling to adapt after Britain took back control of many of its legal rights.
He said: “I think what people are finding hard now in Government, in the Civil Service, is suddenly being in charge.”
While he said he quite “liked” Michel Barnier, Lord Frost said: “He was not sure he ever regarded me as quite his equal.”
Mr Farage then suggested the treaty Lord Frost had helped negotiate with Brussels was “not really a great deal”.
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Sinn Fein emerged as the largest party in last Thursday’s Northern Ireland elections.
Frost said he thought Mr Johnson would lead the Tories into the next general election.
Lord Frost did not directly address Mr Farage’s assessment and instead said the Government inherited a difficult hand from Theresa May’s negotiating team.
The former UK Ambassador to Denmark also stressed that efforts taken by Labour’s Hilary Benn and former Tory MP Alistair Burt to block a no deal Brexit had negatively impacted the UK’s negotiating position.
He said: “In the end, we had to do the best we could and we at least got rid of the backstop.
“If we hadn’t done that then we would still be negotiating to leave the EU customs union now and we gave ourselves freedom for the future and future negotiations that we delivered on.”
By freeing itself from Brussels’ customs orbit, Brexit Britain has been able to sign bespoke free trade agreements with Australia, New Zealand and Japan.
The UK is currently negotiating accords with India, Canada and several US states.
At the end of the interview with Mr Farage, Lord Frost also claimed he would consider “stand[ing] down” from the Lords to enter the Commons as a Member of Parliament and said he thought Mr Johnson would lead the Tories into the next general election.