The UK’s Brexit minister Lord Frost has continued to insist the Northern Ireland Protocol is not working, and has called for large parts of the mechanism to be completely overhauled. He has continued to demand the removal of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from the deal, which would effectively act as a referee between the two sides in any future disputes. The EU has flat-out rejected this and so far several rounds of talks between London and Brussels have failed to make any significant breakthrough.
This has led Lord Frost to warn the UK could trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, which could see the deal significantly overhauled or completely torn apart.
But Brussels has said it will retaliate, sparking fears of a potentially destructive trade war that would send tensions between the two sides soaring.
Ben Harris-Quinney, chairman of the Bow Group think tank, believes the EU is gradually “softening” its stance in talks, a move the UK should move to embrace.
However, he warned if progress can’t be made in the negotiations soon and the EU won’t move from its position, “it is better to scrap the entire deal”.
Mr Harris-Quinney told Express.co.uk: “The EU remains unwilling to make significant concessions on goods and use of the ECJ as final court of arbitration.
“The EU began by formally refusing to renegotiate the Northern Irish Protocol, but we are now effectively in a renegotiation, so there is a genuine softening and that should be embraced.
“The UK was the party to begin the renegotiation, and there is no point entering into that process and not solving the problem.
“We need to resolve the issue now and if the EU are unwilling to budge then it is better to scrap the entire deal than to continue a circumstance that clearly is not working, creating only further discord and uncertainty.”
The politics expert has urged the UK to trigger Article 16 and “force a conclusion” if the EU continues its hard-line stance on key issues such as checks on goods and the role of the ECJ.
But he also fears the EU could once again gain the upper hand while there also being a risk Britain has not fully prepared for the chaotic fallout triggering Article 16 could inflict.
Mr Harris-Quinney added: “If the EU is not willing to budge on key issues like goods checks and ECJ arbitration, the Government should trigger Article 16 and force a conclusion, rather than allowing the status quo and negotiations to carry on indefinitely.
“The Government has however taken a naive approach thus far, there is a danger of being out-manoeuvred by the EU again, and there is a risk that they have not adequately prepared or positioned themselves for the potential fallout of triggering Article 16.”
Boris risks losing US ally: ministers ‘don’t understand’ Irish feeling [REPORT]
Brexiteer hits out at bloc as he urges Macron to listen to Boris [COMMENTS]
Macron’s hatred of Britain will keep migrants coming says PAUL BALDWIN [OPINION]
On Friday, Lord Frost warned a “significant” gap remains between the UK and the EU after crunch talks aimed at resolving the Protocol issues once again ended in stalemate.
The Brexit minister repeated a threat to use Article 16 of the protocol to override some of the rules he negotiated because of the impact on Northern Ireland.
Lord Frost said in a statement: “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.”
Following the talks with his UK counterpart, European Commission vice president Maros Sefcovic said a “decisive push” is required to get a medicines deal over the line.
The pair will hold further talks on possible changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol in Brussels this week.