Now the EU has rumbled him ...
Over the Channel, the view of Frost is rather different, even brutally dismissive: he is out of his depth, he was turned over by Michel Barnier without the latter so much as breaking sweat, and now, as unrest over the Northern Ireland Protocol intensifies, he has been correctly identified by those at the top of the European Commission as the problem.
Thus far, pro-Government pundits have been prepared to stand behind Frost, but that may be about to change as his blame-it-all-on-the-EU mantra took a serious knock. The moment of truth came after The Great Man had contributed an op-ed for the FT, in which he instructed the EU to sort a problem stemming from his own negotiation.
... his boss will have to make a decision
Bozo wanted to ditch the so-called Backstop negotiated by Theresa May, who counselled that no UK Prime Minister would accept a border down the Irish Sea. He got Frost on the case, and very soon had, er, accepted a border down the Irish Sea, in the form of the now-hated Protocol - because Ireland is an EU member state and part of the Single Market.
The UK has decided it wants nothing to do with the Single Market, so there must be a mechanism for protecting it from any attempt to use Northern Ireland as a back door. Now Frost is moaning “We underestimated the effect of the protocol on goods movements to Northern Ireland, with some suppliers in GB simply not sending their products because of the time-consuming paperwork required”. What did he expect? There was more.
“We’ve seen manufacturers of medicines cutting supply. And there is less choice on supermarket shelves for customers. The [Northern Ireland] retail consortium has warned that when the grace period ends in October, supermarket will face ‘real, severe problems’”. Observers were less than totally sympathetic to Frost. David Henig was one of them.
“I'm sorry but this is absolutely disingenuous. The UK government were told on day one after signing the Withdrawal Agreement what it meant, and refused to accept it for domestic political reasons. And treaties are for life not just an election win" [thread HERE].
Steve Analyst was equally unimpressed. “Does Lord Frost know that the protocol was part of the central policy that the Conservatives were elected on in 2019? This almost sounds like a resigning matter for the government”. Frost had, on Christmas Eve last year, told “I'm very pleased and proud to have led a great UK team to secure today's excellent deal with the EU”. So it has to be assumed he knew what he was agreeing to.
Well, maybe not: Jessica Simor QC had a possible explanation. “The crucial point is that [David Frost] is NOT saying that the Withdrawal Agreement is being misinterpreted by the EU. Rather, he is saying that he/HMG had not properly understood it when they agreed it and for that reason, it should now be read to mean something different”.
He wants the EU to clear up his mess. But by now, they are right out of goodwill. The Tories make the Protocol work or they cave in. Shortage of popcorn in Brussels? Could be.
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