The prime minister Boris Johnson has today (26 January) told MPs that the EU is implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol in an “insane and pettifogging way”.
He was responding to a question from Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, which encouraged the government to restore Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s internal market.
The latest comments come shortly after Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, who now leads the UK’s side of the negotiations, reiterated the UK’s position that it wants independent oversight of the Protocol’s trade rules.
Donaldson’s comments, which can be viewed on the BBC’s Twitter channel, came during today’s (26 January) Prime Minister’s Questions.
“Twenty-seven percent is the increase in the cost of bringing goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland when we can get access to those goods,” he said.
“It is costing business £2.5m every day - almost £1bn a year - the cost of the Protocol,” he added.
Johnson replied: “Two hundred businesses have stopped supplying Northern Ireland. Foods are being blocked, Christmas cards are being surcharged and frankly the EU is implementing this in an insane and pettifogging way and we need to sort it out and I completely support what he is saying.”
The prime minister’s comments come shortly after Liz Truss yesterday told Parliament that the UK requires there to be an independent arbitration mechanism to oversee any trade disputes that could emerge from the Protocol.
"I am working very hard with my EU counterparts to resolve the very difficult situation in Northern Ireland and it is needed that we sort this out as soon as possible," she told parliament, according to Reuters. "That's why we're in intensive negotiations. I do believe there is a deal to be done."
The Sun’s Brussels reporter Nick Gutteridge tweeted that the Johnson’s language was “quite a departure from the much softer tone taken by Liz Truss since she took charge of the Protocol negotiations.”
Following talks with EU counterpart Maros Sefcovic last week, Truss said the UK and EU had held “constructive” negotiations and that each side had emphasised their desire to keep the relationship “positive”.
The EU has said that it wants to conclude talks over the future implementation of the Protocol by the end of February so as not to cloud elections in Northern Ireland in May.