Lord Frost vows to defend UK’s position ‘vigorously’
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The Lords’ European Union committee criticised the Government’s decision to delay the implementation of customs checks, warning it risked “destabilising” relations with the EU. Ministers had said businesses needed more time to adapt to the new bureaucratic red tape due to be introduced at the start of next month.
Northern Ireland remains in the EU customs union as part of Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal and as a result, export forms must be filled in on shipments to the province.
The UK’s decision was met with outrage in Brussels, who accused Britain of failing to live up to its commitments under the Northern Ireland Protocol which outlines the need for extra paperwork.
The bloc has said the UK’s decision to unilaterally extend the grace periods on the customs checks breaks international law.
Express.co.uk understands the EU will launch legal action against the move in the coming days.
Lord David Frost has been asked to explain his decision to extend Brexit grace periods (Image: GETTY)
And now peers have also criticised the move in a letter to Lord Frost.
“We are concerned at the potentially destabilising effect of the Government’s decision to announce the extension unilaterally,” the Lords committee wrote.
They said such actions “significantly undermined mutual trust and confidence” in Brexit relations.
The peers added: “The Protocol remains a source of intense political controversy and instability, not only between the UK and the EU, but also between the UK and Ireland, and within Northern Ireland itself.”
The group also criticised Brussels for triggering Article 16 in January, which would have created a border on the island of Ireland.
The European Commission withdrew the decision just hours after initiating it, describing the triggering of Article 16 as an “oversight”.
David Frost has been asked to write to the committee answering their questions (Image: PA)
In their letter to Lord Frost, the committee has demanded answers on the UK’s decision to unilaterally extend the grace period.
They asked why the matter was taken without coming to an agreement with the EU to suspend the paperwork.
The peers also ask the minister to outline what steps are being taken to “rebuild trust and confidence between the UK and the EU” in order to in future “minimise the negative impact of the Protocol on the communities and businesses of Northern Ireland”.
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The EU’s ambassador to London has urged for the two sides to work together (Image: BROOKINGS)
Lord Frost has been asked to write with answers to the question by April 12.
Their letter comes on the same day the EU’s ambassador to London called on both sides to “give up on trying to score points”.
He said the two sides should work together to form a new “special relationship”.
“I think we need to make an effort to change the mindset and give up on trying to score points on the experience on the past and focus ourselves on what we can do to make the most out of the agreements we’ve signed,” he told a Westminster briefing.
Brexit timeline: The UK’s journey to freedom from the EU (Image: EXPRESS)
“We have built together and the links we have established throughout history.
“The geography that we share that we cannot change.
“The interconnectedness and interlinkedness between our economies but also even in our families and the links we establish.
“I think we have a solid foundation for this new cycle of our relationship.”