Britain’s “battle weary” Brexit negotiator Lord Frost has tendered his resignation to Boris Johnson.
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Lord Frost said that he had “concerns about the current direction of travel”; citing recent decisions to introduce vaccine passports, raise taxes and the race to reach net zero.
“Brexit is now secure. The challenge for the Government now is to deliver on the opportunities it gives us,” Lord Frost wrote.
“We also need to learn to live with Covid and I know that is your instinct too… I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere.”
Mr Johnson thanked Lord Frost for helping Britain to, “maximise the economic and political opportunities for Brexit.”
“You have helped highlight and sought to address the destabilising impact of the current operation of the Northern Ireland protocol is having on communities in Northern Ireland, which is undermining the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement,” Mr Johnson added.
Lord Frost was appointed Boris Johnson’s chief Brexit negotiator in 2019 and was instrumental in securing Britain’s departure from the European Union. As part of the Withdrawal Agreement, Northern Ireland remains bound by certain EU laws and Lord Frost has spent 2021 reworking aspects of the protocol he himself negotiated.
As recently as Friday he gave a cautious welcome to an EU offer that would cut red tape for drug companies who supply Northern Ireland with medicine.
Former First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster tweeted that:
“The resignation of Lord Frost from the Cabinet is a big moment for the Government but enormous for those of us who believed he would deliver for Northern Ireland. Wishing him all the best.”
Others were less generous; the Chairman of the Commons’ Northern Ireland Select Committee, Simon Hoare, said:
“I can’t say I’m sorry. He was unsuited to the ‘doing of politics’, never understood the need for personal rapport or the importance of trust. I hope whoever takes over will be from the Commons where we can all question directly.”
A former Foreign Office diplomat, Lord Frost previously served as British Ambassador to Denmark and with the UK’s Representation to the EU.
EU negotiators found him at times a difficult character; unlike in the May years - when the emphasis was on frictionless trade and compromise - under Lord Frost the aim from the British side was sovereignty above all else.
By the end of the talks he had developed a cordial relationship with EU negotiator Michel Barnier. However, one habit of his particularly grated with the Frenchman and ardent European.
“He keeps referring to the EU as ‘your organisation’ when talking to Michel,” one European source told The Times.
It was a small but calculated needling from a British side that fundamentally viewed the European project in a very different light to those it was negotiating with.
Main Image: Lord Frost. Picture by: PA