Brexit Minister Lord David Frost left the British government as a final blow to Boris Johnson’s authority.
The departure of the minister from the government during such an intense period of negotiations with Brussels is likely to heighten Eurosceptic fears that Johnson will capitulate to trade arrangements after Brexit in Northern Ireland.
It is understood Johnson no longer calls for the immediate removal of the European Court of Justice from its role in implementing the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol. Such a move would undermine Frost’s negotiating position, which was a vocal critic of the ECJ.
The Frost allies have confirmed that he feels he has reached the “end of the road” in his negotiations with Brussels.
The United Kingdom is expected to tell the EU that governance issues can wait until they agree on practical ways to improve the flow of goods between the region and the rest of the UK.
The United Kingdom has indicated it could accept an arbitration mechanism of this kind regulating other elements of the EU-UK withdrawal agreement, which leaves the ECJ as an arbitrator of EU law but puts the court in one place in resolving protocol disputes.
Frost is also believed to have expressed concern with Johnson over the lifting of new restrictions on coronavirus imposed by the prime minister in the fight against the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.
Government officials said the minister is also concerned about the government’s move to raise taxes to their highest level since 1950, as well as the costs associated with achieving the 2050 net zero emissions target.
Officials confirmed that Frost submitted a letter of resignation to the prime minister last week, but agreed to remain in the role until January, according to the Mail on Sunday newspaper.
Labor shadow minister for Brexit Jenny Chapman wrote on Twitter: “As if we didn’t already know, Lord Frost’s resignation shows that the government is in chaos.”
“The country needs leadership, not a lame prime minister whose deputies and government have lost faith in him. Boris Johnson must apologize to the public and explain his plan for the next few weeks. “
Frost’s opposition to government measures to deal with the new coronavirus variant reflects growing unease within the Conservative Party, which fears Johnson is chairing a ‘covert closure’.
Johnson experienced a humiliating uprising on Tuesday when nearly 100 Tory MPs voted against a request for a negative test or vaccine certification to enter mass events. The measure passed with the support of Labor.
DUP leader Jeffrey Donaldson, who has threatened to withdraw his ministers from Northern Ireland’s executive branch if customs controls between Britain and Northern Ireland are not lifted, said in a statement that Frot’s exit was a bad sign of the British government’s commitment to removing borders with Ireland. I can.
He said Johnson’s government was plagued by internal conflicts and that Lord Frost was frustrated on numerous fronts. We wish David all the best. “
“This protocol has been a deeply harmful business for the people we represent. The Prime Minister must now urgently decide which is more important – protocol or the stability of political institutions, “he added.
Michelle O’Neille, the First Deputy Minister of Northern Ireland, wrote on Twitter: “David Frost was negotiating Brexit which was rejected by the majority here. It has since undermined the Protocol, which limits the damage from Brexit to our people and economy. Now we need momentum in the talks to function better. The North will not be collateral damage in the Tory chaos. “
Doug Beattie, leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, called for a quick replacement with someone “who understands the issues that need to be addressed”.
Like all unionist leaders, he criticized trade arrangements for Northern Ireland after Brexit. “There are certainly advantages in trade over protocols and we need to take advantage of them, but there are also serious issues that need to be addressed,” he said.
additional reporting by Jude Webber in Dublin