Tory Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has told the EU she wants to rebuild the UK’s relationship with the bloc and she expects them to show a “pragmatic approach” to issues surrounding Northern Ireland.
Truss’s demands to repair the broken relationship come despite regular threats from her and her predecessor David Frost over recent months, when negotiating on Brexit.
“As fellow believers in liberty and democracy, we should be capable of reaching an agreement that delivers for Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship,” Truss claimed.
Truss met European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic for the first time
Her statements emerged as she met European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic for talks for the first time today.
Sefcovic said he wanted “stability” and “predictability” for Northern Ireland, which has been allowed in the EU’s tariff-free single market for goods in order to keep an open border in Ireland and prevent threats to peace.
But this meant a new customs border had to be put in place in the Irish Sea, for goods coming to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK, which brought extra bureaucracy and problems for businesses and angered unionists in Northern Ireland who argue peace is still at risk.
Truss has replaced Brexit minister David Frost last month as UK’s Brexit negotiator with the EU after Frost quit because of Tory policies on increased taxes and Covid restrictions.
Repeated threats prompt EU to accuse Tories of lack of ‘positivity’
But despite Britain’s negotiator changing, Truss has maintained the insistence that the EU’s top court should be scrapped from having a say in issues related to the Brexit deal.
Britain’s ministers have repeatedly threatened they would use a clause to suspend the deal they signed with the EU if the bloc does not agree on the UK’s proposals, despite the risk of a trade war with Britain’s 27 neighbours.
The European Union said the UK failed to respond in a positive manner to its “far-reaching proposals” to help Northern Ireland businesses, according to the AP.
Irish trade ‘can’t continue thriving because it hurts the UK’, Frost warned
Former Brexit minister David Frost admitted trade between Northern Ireland and Ireland has gone up since Brexit – but suggested it cannot keep benefitting from the EU’s single market, as this would hurt the UK.
Frost admitted supply chains are being “reordered quite quickly” and trade between Northern Ireland the Republic has increased in both directions based on both British and Irish figures.
But he suggested things have to change: “People and businesses do respond very quickly to incentives and incidentally the other area where you see this is trade movements from Ireland across Great Britain into the rest of the EU, where the so-called ‘land bridge’ has sort of collapsed in the first nine months of this year.
“So that’s one reason why we can’t wait very long, things aren’t happening and it isn’t just theoretical.”