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Brexit: UK calls on EU to stop 'point-scoring' over Northern Ireland

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·2-min read
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A Border Force officer talks to a lorry driver at the Department of Agricultural, Environment and Rural Affairs facility on Duncrue Street near Belfast Harbour, as post-Brexit checks at all Northern Ireland's ports resume. Inspections of animal-based food produce arriving at Belfast and Larne ports were suspended amid concerns over the safety of staff. Picture date: Wednesday February 10, 2021. (Photo by Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images)
David Frost said the EU was enforcing strict checks on goods moving from Britain to NI, perpetuating risks to supply chains despite "no evidence that goods are not meeting EU standards." Photo: Niall Carson/PA Images via Getty Images

Britain's Brexit minister has warned Brussels to stop "point-scoring" and cooperate with the UK to see the Brexit deal through. 

David Frost urged European officials to work with Britain to solve problems arising from the so-called Northern Ireland (NI) protocol, which draws a trade border in the Irish Sea.

Writing in the Mail on Sunday, he said the overriding aim of the protocol is to "protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement", adding the protocol "is not working" if it fails to do so. 

Frost also acknowledged the UK government did not anticipate the extra checks and paperwork, which resulted from the agreement he negotiated. 

Northern Ireland’s position in the UK remained under threat and the "new relationship with the EU won’t be right," until those issues are settled, he said. 

"Northern Ireland is fully part of our UK union," Frost wrote. "If the protocol operates so as to damage the political, social or economic fabric of life in Northern Ireland, then that situation cannot be sustained for long."

The NI protocol — part of the UK-EU deal designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland — keeps the country in the EU’s single market for goods, meaning new rules and restrictions on trade between Great Britain and NI.

Read more: UK missing out on global trade upswing due to Brexit

The minister mentioned several issues arising between the pair following Brexit as examples of a lack of "enthusiasm to make things work." 

He listed, attempts to block vaccine exports to the UK, threats to cut electricity to the British island of Jersey over fishing rights as well as whether to retaliate over finance companies' access to the EU single market. 

Frost added that the EU was enforcing strict checks on goods moving from Britain to NI, perpetuating risks to supply chains despite "no evidence that goods are not meeting EU standards."

It comes after a separate research showed Britain is missing out on the global trade upswing since exiting the EU. 

Figures showed, while the UK trade deficit came in at just £2.7bn ($3.8bn) in the first quarter of 2020, compared to a £6.6bn average in the 2010s, exports to the EU have fallen sharply.

According to Pantheon Macro, the deficit highlighted the fact that UK exporters have lost market share, rather than the lacklustre EU economy.

The value of goods exports to the EU fell to £32.2bn in Q1, down from £39.9bn in the last three months of the year. In contrast, exports to non-EU countries rose to £41.3bn from £40.9bn over the period.

Watch: 10 ways to Brexit-proof your finances

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