International trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan has said that Article 16 won’t be triggered before Christmas as dialogue between Britain and the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol continues.
Her comments comes after EU relations minister Lord Frost insisted again that suspending elements of the Protocol remains on the the table as a “safeguard” measure.
Trevelyan told the Telegraph that Protocol discussions were “progressing rather slowly and painfully” and that the two sides “will plod on doing the work that negotiators do”.
She added: “I don’t think anyone’s calling Article 16 before Christmas, absolutely not.”
According to the FT, a Downing Street spokesperson was less definite, saying that while a negotiated solution was preferred “we will use Article 16, the safety mechanism, if solutions cannot be found”.
Asked if this would be before Christmas, the spokesperson said: “Well, I am not going to put a timetable on it.”
Iron Lady spirit
Yesterday, Trevelyan also delivered a speech at the Centre for Policy Studies conference on the importance of free and fair trade.
Evoking the spirit of Margaret Thatcher, Trevelyan said Britain would use its “newfound freedom” from the EU “to chart a new course now that we are once again a truly independent trading nation”.
She highlighted British export success in areas including electric vehicle production, digital technology, financial services, maritime equipment and pharmaceuticals.
“Our task is to capitalise on these amazing strengths – setting the frameworks for Great British Business to thrive from Washington DC to Wellington,” she said.
No to protectionism
Britain would work with the WTO to oppose isolation and protectionism, said Trevelyan.
“To trade freely, we must also trade fairly. To protect our open international order, we must stand against unfair competition and those who seek to undermine our enterprise,” she said.
Future trade deals will be sought with India, the Gulf Cooperation Council, as well as membership of the CPTPP as economic growth now centred on the Indo-Pacific region, she added.