Brexit: David Davis warns of 'three more years' of negotiations

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It will come after SNP minister Angus Robertson said the tensions between London and Brussels were of “great concern”. The pair are set to meet later today to discuss the Government’s plans to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol. The post-Brexit border fix has been a source of great frustration in the region and has sparked controversy between the UK and EU.

The measures have also threatened medicine and food supplies in Northern Ireland, a risk ministers want to end immediately.

Mr Robertson, the SNP’s external affairs secretary, claimed Lord Frost’s plans to rework the protocol “gambled” with Scotland’s future and was “eroding trust” in the relationship with Brussels.

Ahead of the meeting, a UK Government spokeswoman said: “It’s clear that the Protocol is not working in its current form and significant changes are needed to ensure that it is sustainable for the future.

“The protocol is causing disruption to the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland – companies are stopping delivering to Northern Ireland, there are growing difficulties with medicines supplies, and products are disappearing from supermarket shelves.

“We have set out our proposals to resolve the serious issues with the Protocol in exhaustive detail in our Command Paper.

“The EU need to engage with us urgently on these issues – we are ready to move forward in a constructive way.”

The Withdrawal Agreement’s protocol was negotiated because of the region’s land border with the Republic of Ireland in the EU.

To keep the frontier open, Northern Ireland remains in the bloc’s single market, with controls on products shipped from the rest of the UK.

Lord Frost has warned the arrangements are having a chilling effect on trade in the region and unionists have argued the measures have separated them from the rest of the UK.

As a result of the tensions, No10 wants to eliminate all trade checks between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain and strip the European Court of Justice’s role in managing the protocol from the treaty.

Cabinet Office officials have been locked in technical discussions with their EU counterparts to explain the plans outlined in the Government’s Command Paper.

The European Commission has agreed to pause legal action against Downing Street to create the “necessary space” to consider the proposals on how to avoid a hard border.

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Eurocrats had accused the UK of breaching international law by temporarily suspending EU-ordered checks between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland.

Ministers argued the delay in enforcing the red tape was to protect supermarket supplies and trade. Brussels’

Despite the Government’s attempts to engage constructively with Brussels, Mr Robertson believes a change of tack is needed.

He said: “The ongoing tensions between the UK Government and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol are of great concern.

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“The entire issue could worsen the already damaging trade impact on Scotland of the UK Government’s hard Brexit, and have wider ramifications for EU-UK relations, including further eroding trust.”

He added: “Lord Frost needs to explain to Scotland what the rationale is behind the UK Government’s high risk and potentially provocative strategy, and provide reassurance that a damaging breakdown in relations can be avoided.

“Scotland is already suffering from the damaging economic impact of Brexit and being removed against our will from a market around seven times bigger than the UK.

“We need to do everything possible to avoid making that damage even worse, which is why I will be urging Lord Frost to ensure that the UK Government proceeds in a spirit of collaboration, not conflict, with the EU.”

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