Lord Frost has told Brussels to stop threatening a sausage trade war with the UK and focus on solving the problems faced by families and small businesses in Northern Ireland, ahead of a showdown summit on Wednesday.
On the eve of the first UK-EU Partnership Council in London, the Brexit minister warned that “further threats of legal action” would do nothing to solve the “damaging impact” that the Northern Ireland Protocol was having on the ground.
“Trade retaliation from the EU won’t make life any easier for the shopper in Strabane who can’t buy their favourite product,” he continued. “Nor will it benefit the small business in Ballymena struggling to source produce from their supplier in Birmingham.”
His comments were echoed by Boris Johnson, who in a call with Ursula von der Leyen, the European Commission President, stressed the UK needed to see “quick progress” to “minimise the impact” of the protocol “on the lives of people in Northern Ireland”.
However, signalling that the row could now spill over into the G7 this weekend, Mrs von der Leyen said she had expressed her “deep concern” to Mr Johnson and intended to “discuss how to progress and ensure compliance” in the margins of the summit.
While ministers have branded the ban “bonkers” and are now considering unilaterally extending a grace period in the protocol if no solution can be found with the EU, Brussels has said it could hit back by seeking to impose tariffs and other restrictions on trade.