Johnson’s Brexit Chief to Attend G-7 as U.K. Braces for Pressure
(Bloomberg) -- Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top Brexit adviser, David Frost, will attend this week’s Group of Seven summit, according to multiple officials familiar with the plan, in a sign the British delegation is preparing for tough talks over the situation in Northern Ireland.
The British team is due to hold discussions with U.S. President Joe Biden and European Union leaders on the sidelines of the summit in Cornwall, England. One of the people said that Frost’s presence suggests that the meetings could feature detailed conversations about how to handle the Northern Ireland protocol of the Brexit accords.
Frost was the U.K.’s chief Brexit negotiator and is now a cabinet minister, advising Johnson on Europe and trade. Johnson’s office declined to comment.
The EU and the U.K. have long been at odds over the special arrangements for Northern Ireland that are part of the separation agreement that Frost and Johnson negotiated. The EU argues that U.K. decisions to unilaterally waive provisions in the deal, such as checks on food products entering Northern Ireland from Britain, are in breach of the agreement, threatening to take action if the U.K. doesn’t change course soon. The British government says it has offered practical proposals and the EU is being inflexible.
In the latest attempt to break the impasse, the EU and the U.K. will be holding talks about the matter on Wednesday.
The Times newspaper reported this week that Biden will warn Johnson not to renege on the deal, while several senior U.S. politicians have previously said that Britain can forget a trade if the Brexit pact is broken.
Some EU officials are likely to bristle at Frost’s presence at the leaders’ summit as his brash style has often irked Brussels. In an article published by the Financial Times, Frost said the Northern Ireland protocol needed to be revisited and the U.K. was happy to talk whenever the EU was ready. The EU said its patience is running thin and if the U.K. doesn’t change course it will be forced to resort to further measures.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.