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Jeffrey Donaldson: ‘Lord Frost’s departure is bad sign for Boris Johnson’s commitment to removing NI Protocol’

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Brexit Minister Lord Frost has resigned from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over the ‘political direction of his Government’. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Brexit Minister Lord Frost has resigned from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over the ‘political direction of his Government’. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Brexit Minister Lord Frost has resigned from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet over the ‘political direction of his Government’. Photo credit: Peter Byrne/PA

Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has deemed Lord David Frost’s resignation from Boris Johnson’s Cabinet as a “bad sign for the Prime Minister’s commitment to removing the Irish Sea border”.

The chief Brexit negotiator's departure is reportedly due to the government’s ‘political direction’, according to the Mail on Sunday.

In a statement on Saturday evening, Mr Donaldson said: “This government is distracted by internal strife, and Lord Frost was being frustrated on a number of fronts.

“We wish David well. We enjoyed a strong relationship with him and his team but this raises more serious questions for the Prime Minister and his approach to the NI Protocol.

"Whether on Northern Ireland’s access to medicines, our economic prosperity and trade with the rest of the United Kingdom or on the growing divergence between NI and GB, this Protocol has been a deeply damaging deal for the people we represent,” the DUP leader continued.

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“The Prime Minister must now urgently decide which is more important - the Protocol or the stability of the political institutions.”

Upon hearing of Lord Frost’s resignation, Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill tweeted: “David Frost negotiated Brexit of which a majority here rejected.

”He has undermined the Protocol since, which limits the damage of Brexit on our people and economy. We now need momentum in the Talks to make it work better. The North will not be collateral damage in the Tory chaos.”

Former First Minister Arlene Foster wished Lord Frost well and said his leaving “is a big moment for the Government, but enormous for those of us who believed he would deliver for NI”.

It is reported that Lord Frost handed his resignation in a week ago, but was persuaded by Mr Johnson to stay in his post until January.

However, the life peer was “disappointed” that this plan had “become public” on Saturday evening, and then wrote another letter to the Prime Minister on the same night, stating that he is to “step down with immediate effect”.

He also mentions how, after two and a half years of leading Britain’s EU exit process since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister, he feels “Brexit is secure” and that now “the challenge for the government is to deliver on the opportunities it gives us”.

He does not mention Northern Ireland or the NI Protocol in the statement.

In a tweet, SDLP MLA Matthew O’Toole said: “Of course the letter doesn't mention Northern Ireland once. All the sound and fury and destabilisation Frost was responsible for, and it never really mattered.”

A senior government source cited the government’s introduction of 'Plan B' Covid measures - including vaccine passports – as a main reason for the Brexit Minister’s departure.

Tax rises and the staggering cost of 'net zero' environmental policies in recent months are other factors that have purportedly contributed to Mr Frost’s unhappiness with the Prime Minister and government.

Lord Frost had recently been locked in tense rounds of talks with European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic as the UK and the EU attempt to close gaps in post-Brexit arrangements.

Earlier this week, it was announced that the UK Government is to delay new controls on goods moving from the island of Ireland to Great Britain while negotiations with Brussels on the Northern Ireland Protocol continue.

The checks on incoming goods from the European Union – covering mainly food and agricultural products – are due to come into force on January 1, bringing post-Brexit customs arrangements with the bloc in line with those with the rest of world.

However, Lord Frost said the existing arrangements would continue on a temporary basis for goods crossing the Irish Sea for as long as the discussions on the protocol are ongoing.


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