UK blames ‘heavy-handed’ EU for Brexit deal problems

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Lord David Frost, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, speaks during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Monday, Oct.

4, 2021.

UK blames 'heavy-handed' EU for Brexit deal problems

Lord David Frost, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, speaks during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Monday, Oct.

4, 2021.

UK blames 'heavy-handed' EU for Brexit deal problems

Lord David Frost, Minister of State at the Cabinet Office, speaks during the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester, England, Monday, Oct.

4, 2021.

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MANCHESTER, England (AP) — Britain’s Brexit minister threatened Monday to trigger a contentious break clause in the U.K.’s divorce deal with the European Union — a move that would send the U.K.’s already chilly relations with its huge neighbor into a deep freeze. David Frost told a gathering of the U.K.’s governing Conservative Party that the Brexit agreement — which he negotiated and was signed by Britain and the EU — was undermining peace in Northern Ireland and causing “instability and disruption.” He said unless there are major changes to the deal, Britain will invoke Article 16, a provision that lets either side suspend the agreement in exceptional circumstances.

However, Britain has made that threat before, and Frost did not pull the trigger. “But we cannot wait forever,” he said. The crisis straining U.K.-EU relations stems from trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc.

The divorce deal the two sides struck before Britain’s departure means customs and border checks must be conducted on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the U.K.

The regulations are intended to prevent goods from Britain entering the EU’s tariff-free single market while keeping an open border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process.

But the checks have angered Northern Ireland’s unionists, who say they impose burdensome red tape on businesses and weaken Northern Ireland’s ties with the rest of the U.K.


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