Brussels should stop complaining about the UK’s decision to leave the EU and instead try to make Brexit work, according to new cabinet minister Lord David Frost.
The UK’s new de-facto Brexit minister said he hoped the EU “will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving” and “instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals”.
Frost’s comments come just days after Boris Johnson decided to unilaterally extend the current Northern Ireland customs grace period for supermarket goods, medicines and parcels for another six months until the end of October.
The move means there will be no new checks on these goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order until October to give businesses more time to adapt to the new rules.
The grace period was due to run out at the end of March and the UK had previously asked for a negotiated extension.
Johnson’s decision to move without Brussels’ approval infuriated EU officials, who claim the UK has now broken the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement, and are threatening to launch legal action.
Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Frost blamed the EU for not being more flexible on Northern Ireland’s border arrangements.
Frost, who negotiated the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and trade deal, said the EU had “significantly undermined cross-community confidence in the [Northern Ireland] Protocol” when it temporarily called to suspend it during a vaccines dispute with the UK in January.
“As the government of the whole of our country we have to deal with that situation – one that remains fragile,” Frost said.
“That is why we have had to take some temporary operational steps to minimise disruption in Northern Ireland. They are lawful and are consistent with a progressive and good faith implementation of the Protocol.
“They are about protecting the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland, making sure they can receive parcels and buy the usual groceries from the supermarket.”
Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney hit out at the UK’s decision on Friday, saying the EU “simply can’t trust Britain”.
“To say that is disrespectful, would be an understatement,” he said.