Labour sides with Brussels: Lord Frost attacked for bungling Brexit negotiations with EU

UK cannot return to EU social model after Brexit says Frost

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Then-US President Donald Trump imposed tariffs on steel from the EU while the UK was still a member state in 2018. Joe Biden has since lifted the tariffs on EU imports – but has kept these in place for Britain.

It has been claimed Washington is punishing Boris Johnson’s Government for its handling of Northern Ireland Protocol negotiations.

In the Commons this morning, Gareth Thomas, Labour’s shadow trade minister, appeared to suggest Lord Frost should give up demanding the EU make changes to the Protocol in order to kickstart talks with the US. 

Mr Thomas said: “Free trade negotiations with the US are vital to lifting Donald Trump’s tariffs on British steel and aluminium exports, which in turn are crucial to protecting jobs and businesses in communities across our country.

“Given that the US has already agreed to lift tariffs on many EU steel products, if we are to get a level playing field for our firms and our workers, might it not be time for Lord Frost to be given a little help to stop bungling discussions with the EU so this vital US-UK trade deal can be sorted?”

Responding, International Trade Minister Ranil Jayawardena said no apologies would be made for efforts to stand up for the whole of the UK.

The Government has argued the Protocol, as currently implemented, is having a damaging impact on the UK’s internal market.

Customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain to the province have frustrated trade.

Lord Frost wants the checks scrapped for goods set to remain in Northern Ireland not at risk of moving into the EU single market via the Republic of Ireland.

He also wants the European Court of Justice’s role in overseeing the Protocol removed.

Mr Jayawardena said: “We will always stand up for the British national interest and that includes with the European Union.

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“We will make sure that our United Kingdom remains strong and can trade with the world.

“The truth is America’s unjustified tariffs on steel and aluminium and derivatives imports from the UK are unfair and unnecessary.”

Lord Frost is holding weekly talks on the Protocol with his EU counterpart, Maros Sefcovic.

Both sides have presented their own proposals to improve the way the protocol currently works but have failed to reach an agreement.

Following a face-to-face meeting last week, the Brexit minister said: “We would still like to find a negotiated solution.

“But the gap between our positions is still significant and we are ready to use Article 16 to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement if other solutions cannot be found.

“Technical discussions will continue next week.”

The UK and EU will meet in person again tomorrow in London.

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