Keir Starmer states Labour must 'make Brexit work'

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Lord David Frost has threatened to use Article 16 to suspend the Northern Ireland Protocol, saying EU proposals to ease trade issues do not go far enough. The EU has warned of “serious consequences” should that happen, with some speculating the bloc would suspend other post-Brexit trade agreements

On Friday, Lord Frost reiterated threats to trigger Article 16, saying it was “very much on the table”.

He said: “We hope to make some progress, but honestly, the gap between us is still quite significant, but let’s see where we can get to.

“We’re not going to trigger Article 16 today, but Article 16 is very much on the table and has been since July.

“Time is running out on these talks if we are to make progress.”

In response, EU commissioner Maroš Šefčovič warned of “serious consequences” if the UK suspends the Brexit deal.

He said: “I found this disappointing and once again I urge the UK Government to engage with us sincerely.

“From this perspective, I see next week as an important one. We should focus all efforts on reaching a solution as soon as possible.

“Our aim should be to establish stability and predictability for Northern Ireland.

“We hear a lot about Article 16 at the moment, but there’ll be no doubt that triggering Article 16 to seek the negotiation of the Protocol would have serious consequences.

“Serious for Northern Ireland, as it would lead to instability and unpredictability, and serious also for the EU-UK relations in general, as it would mean a rejection of EU efforts to find a consensual solution to the implementation of the Protocol.”

After the Independent’s John Rentoul suggested “a no deal Brexit is back on the table” over the row, social media users took to Twitter to attack the Prime Minister.

Jonquil (@JonquilLucy) said: ”Where is the fantastic deal that David Frost signed and crowed about just a couple of minutes ago?”

Ed Shields added: “But, but, but … Brexit is “done”? Oven-ready?”

Callum McCulloch also weighed in: “If Brexit was about unelected bureaucrats dictating to the UK, why are people ok with Fraud David Frost having so much power? Who voted for him?”

More users bemoaned the latest row between the UK and EU, with one laying responsibility for the issue at Mr Johnson’s feet.

Grumps (@grumpzie) sounded off: “Boris wasn’t allowed to leave without a deal.

“This is his way of getting his no deal. He always wanted it.

“Remember when it happens and things go pear-shaped that he engineered it, not the EU.

“He is as inept as he is corrupt.”

Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol allows both the EU and UK to take unilateral “safeguard measures” that would suspend parts of the deal if it causes “serious economic, societal or environmental difficulties”.

Sir John Major warned suspending the Protocol would be dangerous and “colossally stupid”.

The former Prime Minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today: “I think it would be colossally stupid to do that.

“To use Article 16, to suspended parts of the Protocol, would be absurd.

“This Protocol is being denounced week after week by Lord Frost and the Prime Minister.

“Who negotiated the wretched Protocol? Lord Frost and the Prime Minister. They negotiated it, they signed it, they now wish to break it.”

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