"Radical changes" needed to NI protocol says Boris Johnson's official spokesman

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By PA news

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman says “radical changes” are needed to the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“That’s what’s necessary to mitigate the serious, real world challenges being faced by businesses and the people of Northern Ireland,” he said.

Earlier the European Union’s ambassador to the UK said it was “encouraging” that London had applied for an extension to the grace period on chilled meats rather than acted unilaterally.

The UK and Brussels are in talks after Boris Johnson’s administration formally requested for the grace period to be continued allowing chilled meats to be shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, with the current arrangements due to expire this month.

Giving evidence to the Lords European Affairs Committee on the UK-EU relationship after Brexit, Joao Vale de Almeida said: “I’m encouraged by very recent developments in the context of the Northern Ireland Protocol.

“The fact that the UK Government decided not to opt for unilateral measures regarding some aspects of trade is encouraging (and) allows me to feel encouraged by possibly a new, more constructive climate in our relations.”

Mr Vale de Almeida added: “We are turning our regulations upside down to try and find a solution to this problem.

“What we didn’t like to see was unilateral action by the Government in breach of what we had agreed – I hope that is behind us now, although the legal procedures must continue, and that we can find a new way of working on these issues.”

There have been “positive indications” that a truce will be reached in the “sausage war” trade dispute with the European Union, George Eustice said.

The UK has applied for an extension to a grace period allowing chilled meats to continue being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland after the end of this month, when the current arrangements are due to expire.

Environment Secretary Mr Eustice told LBC: “I think we are getting some positive indications and it’s always our view that it’s better if we can reach agreement with the European Union on these things.

“It didn’t make any sense to simply say that there’s a ban on the sale of sausages to Northern Ireland, we’re still in dialogue with the European Union about some longer-term solutions on the wider issues around export health certificates.

“While those are ongoing, I think it makes sense for them, just for a few more months, to leave the current arrangement we have in place.”

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