politics

Liz Truss says 'deal is to be done' with Brussels over Northern Ireland protocol


The Foreign Secretary refused to rule out the possibility the UK could trigger Article 16 – suspending part of the arrangements in the protocol – if they could not agree a solution.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss insisted there was a “deal to be done” with Brussels over Brexit ’s Northern Ireland protocol yesterday.

Further discussions will take place this month after latest negotiations failed to break the deadlock.

Speaking after her first meeting with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic, Ms Truss said: “We have had constructive talks with the EU.

“We are now going to go into intensive negotiations to work towards a negotiated solution to sort out these very real issues for the people of Northern Ireland.

“I think there is a deal to be done. I do want to make progress.

“Clearly if we don’t make sufficient progress we will have to look at the alternatives, but my absolute desire is to get a deal that works for the people of Northern Ireland.”







European Commission Maros Sefcovic slips on an icy step in front of Liz Truss and NI Secretary Brandon Lewis
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Image:

Getty Images)

She refused to rule out the possibility the UK could trigger Article 16 – suspending part of the arrangements in the protocol – if they could not agree a solution.

The system is designed to prevent a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic along their shared 310-mile frontier – the UK’s only land border with the EU.

Problems have mounted with the mechanism since the UK formally quit the bloc in January 2020.

The system effectively keeps the province in the EU single market but creates a trade barrier in the Irish Sea for goods crossing from Great Britain – something Boris Johnson previously promised he would never agree to.

Both London and Brussels have outlined plans for improving how the protocol operates.

The Government is seeking substantial changes, arguing that it is hampering the free movement of goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK and damaging community relations.







Foreign Secretary Liz Truss waits to greet Vice president of the European Commission Maros Sefcovic
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CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/POOL/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock)

In a joint statement on Friday after their talks at Chevening, Kent, Ms Truss and Mr Sefcovic said: “The meeting took place in a cordial atmosphere.

“We share a desire for a positive relationship between the EU and the UK underpinned by our shared belief in freedom and democracy.”

Officials will meet next week in “intensified talks” before Ms Truss and Mr Sefcovic meet again on January 24.

Mr Sefcovic added of the Foreign Secretary: “I think what I heard from there was that she preferred a negotiated solution.”

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