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Liz Truss Will Become Britain's Lead Negotiator On The Northern Ireland Protocol

3 min read

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss will become Britain's lead negotiator on the Northern Irish protocol, after Lord David Frost quit as Boris Johnson's Brexit minister in another dramatic blow to the PM.

In a statement, 10 Downing Street said she would become the UK’s co-chair of the Partnership Council and the Joint Committee, and will lead the ongoing negotiations to resolve the problems arising from the current operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol. 

Chris Heaton-Harris, previously a transport minister, will become Minister of State for Europe and will deputise for her on EU Exit and the Protocol. Wendy Morton, previously a Foreign Office minister, will move to the Department for Transport.

Frost, who Johnson appointed to handle the UK's post-Brexit relations with the European Union when he entered 10 Downing Street, confirmed on Saturday night that he was standing down as Cabinet Office Minister with immediate effect. He handed in his resignation last week, according to the Mail on Sunday.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Frost said he had "concerns" about the government's "current direction of travel," and that he wanted to see "lightly-regulated, low tax" economy. 

The Mail On Sunday said that Frost's decision to quit the government was prompted by the introduction of Johnson's "Plan B" measures in response to a surge of the Omicron variant, particularly the Covid certification element.

In his letter, Frost indicated his opposition to the prospect of more stringent restrictions being brought in over the coming weeks to tackle surging Covid cases, which the government is currently believed to be considering.

"I hope we can get back on track soon and not be tempted by the kind of coercive measures we have seen elsewhere," Frost said, referring to countries which have implemented lockdown-style measures in response to Omicron.

However, Frost is also at odds with the Prime Minister on how to approach negotiations over the Northern Ireland Protocol, which he has been leading for the UK, PoliticsHome understands.

This week the UK softened its position on the European Court of Justice in a bid to strike a deal with the EU, and in November decided against suspending the treaty by triggering Article 16.

Figures across government appeared stunned when news of Frost's resignation broke on Saturday night. Two senior officials said they had no idea he had decided to quit.

Labour's Jenny Chapman, who was Frost's opposite number in the House of Lords, said his resignation showed that "the government is in chaos".

“The country needs leadership not a lame duck PM who has lost the faith of his MPs and cabinet," Chapman said.

"Boris Johnson needs to get a grip, tell us his plan for the next few weeks and bring certainty for the people of Northern Ireland by unblocking the stalemate over the Protocol." 

Frost is walking away from his position at a key moment in talks over the Northern Ireland Protocol, with the government this week saying that there had to be significant progress in January for there to be a deal.

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