Calls for clarity on Northern Ireland Protocol plans

Angus Robertson says tensions between the UK Government and the EU are of 'great concern'.

Calls for clarity on Northern Ireland Protocol plans Getty Images

The Scottish Government has called for more clarity on UK ministers’ plans to renegotiate the Northern Ireland Protocol.

External affairs secretary Angus Robertson said tensions between the UK Government and the EU were of “great concern”.

Brexit minister Lord Frost has called for significant changes to be made to the protocol, saying “we cannot go on as we are”.

Robertson is due to meet with Lord Frost on Wednesday.

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

“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 said a recent UK Government Command Paper on a new way forward for the post-Brexit deal “gambled” with Scotland’s EU trade.

Robertson continued: “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.”

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.”