The UK Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng has accused the EU of being “inflexible” about the prospect of re-negotiating the Northern Ireland part of the deal, claiming it was not made to “last forever” in the first place.
In an interview with Sky News on Wednesday, Kwarteng backed the idea of re-negotiating the agreement. The effects of the deal were hard to predict before it actually came into force, he argued, so the parties should now be permitted to work together to make it more “smooth.”
“Nobody could guarantee the effects of the Northern Ireland Protocol until we left the EU,” he stated.
The EU have been a bit inflexible on the Protocol, and we want to see if we can make it work more smoothly.
Asked by Sky News presenter Kay Burley whether the Brexit “deal’s a deal” and therefore should be respected, Kwarteng said the agreement was not designed to last ad infinitum.
A deal is a deal, but it wasn’t something that was going to last forever. It was something that was flexible, and we want to make it work more smoothly.
The UK’s Brexit minister, David Frost, has told the EU that “we cannot go on as we are” and the agreement needed a “significant change.”
While the EU expressed a readiness to look for “creative solutions” and continue working with the UK on the bilateral issues, it flatly rejected the possibility of the standing agreement being revised. The Republic of Ireland has opposed it as well, with its minister of state for European affairs, Thomas Byrne, opining that the current deal was flexible enough as it was. “We do not want to negotiate the Protocol,” he said, shortly after Frost first floated the re-negotiation idea.
The UK’s call came just a year after the deal was reached, allowing for the transfer of goods between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland without checks. The deal has greatly complicated the flow of goods between the UK and the region, however, with some businesses in Northern Ireland saying it had damaged trade. Some pro-British groups in the region, in turn, warned that the agreement would ultimately weaken the ties between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
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