LONDON, RAW – The European Union should shake off any lingering ill will over Brexit and build a friendly relationship with the UK as sovereign equals, Britain’s top EU adviser David Frost says.
Frost again defended Britain’s unilateral move to smooth post-Brexit trade between Britain and Northern Ireland, over which the EU has promised to launch legal action for breaching the terms of the Brexit deal.
Since Britain left the EU last year, relations between the two have soured, with both sides accusing the other of acting in bad faith in relation to part of their trade agreement that covers goods movements to Northern Ireland.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has tried to keep his distance from the row, said Britain and the EU would iron out what he described as “technical issues”, saying such issues were bound to happen “in the early stages of our new relationship”.
Frost, who led Britain’s negotiations to secure a trade deal with the bloc, was appointed as a minister and Johnson’s main man for future ties with the EU earlier this year and looks set to take a firmer approach.
“I hope they will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals,” he wrote in an opinion piece in the Sunday Telegraph.
“That is what I will be working towards, acting constructively when we can, standing up for our interests when we must – as a sovereign country in full control of our own destiny.”
The EU has denied suggestions by some leading Brexiteers that it wishes ill on post-Brexit Britain, saying it only expects London to honour the terms of the divorce agreement.
Frost again defended the British government’s extension of a grace period for checks on some food products imported by retailers to Northern Ireland as being “lawful and consistent with the progressive and good faith implementation” of part of the post-Brexit trade deal called the Northern Ireland protocol.
Northern Ireland’s future was bitterly contested during the Brexit negotiations.
London ultimately agreed to leave the British-ruled province aligned to the EU’s single market for goods to avoid a hard border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland, fearing it could be detrimental to the 1998 peace agreement that ended decades of Irish conflict.
This has required checks on some items arriving in Northern Ireland from elsewhere in the UK, which some businesses say has made it difficult to bring in supplies.
To address that issue, the British government extended the grace period for some checks until October 1.
The EU disputes that the grace period extension was in line with the agreement, saying London should honour what it signed up to. It has promised to launch legal action, or a so-called “infringement procedure” against Britain.