Northern Ireland minister Conor Burns has said that there is “the appetite” for restarting stalled talks with the EU over the NI Protocol.
Burns met the EU’s main Brexit negotiator, Maros Sefcovic, during the British-Irish Association conference at the University of Oxford this weekend, and said he would advise the new prime minister that it could be time to get back to negotiations.
As newly elected head of the Conservative party, Liz Truss will be appointed to the PM role by HM The Queen tomorrow – Tuesday 6 September.
Burns said that in light of his meeting with Sefcovic, “I will certainly send advice [to the PM] … that I think there could well be the appetite to have another go of this,” Burns said, The Guardian reports.
Liz Truss introduced the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill in June, after becoming frustrated at the lack of momentum in talks.
The bill would allow the UK to override parts of the agreement with the EU, with the foreign minister previously saying that the government wanted to “fix the problems with the NI Protocol and restore political stability” in Northern Ireland.
The bill passed through the House of Commons before the summer recess and is expected to go to the House of Lords for debate around mid-October, leaving around six weeks for talks with the EU.
Truss is said to be planning a trip to Dublin to “come to an understanding” over the deal, reports the Express.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said he wants to work with the next British PM in a constructive way, and that the EU will be open to a new “positive” approach to the protocol, reports the BBC.
However, he warned against the bill “testing and fraying” the British-Irish partnership.
“Regrettably, unilateral action on the protocol and on legacy is at odds with the spirit of partnership that is needed to underpin the Good Friday Agreement,” Martin said.
“Brexit marked a fundamental change in the EU-UK relationship, and the type of Brexit chosen by the British Government has meant that the trading relationships on these islands have been fundamentally altered,” he added.
According to PoliticsHome, a Truss premiership will have to consider whether it is willing to risk trade friction with the EU at a time when the economy is facing soaring inflation and high energy bills.
“She’ll be advised by every official in Whitehall that a trade war is the last thing business wants,” said one former Secretary of State.