This could get ugly: EU admits panic over UK relationship as Lord Frost deployed

Brexit: Boris Johnson praises work of negotiator David Frost

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Diplomats and officials hope Lord Frost’s elevation to the Cabinet will help keep a lid on a series of rows brewing over Northern Ireland and the trade and security treaty. Boris Johnson’s former chief negotiator was handed a seat in Cabinet and given full responsibility over Britain’s dealings with Brussels. Lord Frost will takeover the so-called Joint Committee and Partnership Council that manage the UK and EU’s post-Brexit relationships.

EU chiefs now believe this will pave the way for a smoother relationship because the Tory peer understands how the future relationship is supposed to work.

One official said: “Frost negotiated this agreement, he knows the details and has a vision of how it is supposed to work.”

“That is helpful because the relationship is not supposed to be a state of permanent tension or dramas,” they told the Times.

Lord Frost will now co-chair the EU-UK committees alongside European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic.

One of Britain’s top former diplomats, a former colleague of Lord Frost’s in the Foreign Office, expressed concern over the appointment.

Lord Kim Darroch, a former UK ambassador to the EU, said the move will undo the hard work put in by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove to strike up a relationship with Mr Sefcovic.

“David is a former colleague and I wish him well, but I’m concerned that this move will sacrifice the relationship Michael Gove was developing with Maros Sefcovic,” Lord Kim told the FT.

Mr Gove lasted just two days as “interim chair” of the Partnership Council before Lord Frost was elevated to the Cabinet.

Sir Ivan Rogers, another former UK ambassador to the EU, said Lord Frost will face a tough time if he attempts to renegotiate chunks of the Brexit agreement he dislikes.

The Prime Minister’s Brexit point man was in opposition to the Brexit deal’s Northern Ireland protocol to prevent a hard border.

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He also drove through the decision to threaten to break international law by threatening to overwrite chunks of the pact relating to the region.

Sir Ivan said: “There’s no appetite on either side of the table to reopen it… I really don’t think that’s where we are.”

He added the Government would have to “rejig and refine” elements of the treaties to ensure smooth trade flows between the UK and EU.

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Sir Ivan also claimed that Lord Frost’s appointment shows that Brexit is not yet complete.

He said the move was a “recognition, though they won’t quite put it like that, that this is an ongoing and indeed permanent negotiation, which is what some of us were saying in 2016.

“We aren’t at the end – we are the beginning of a new chapter and there’s plenty still to do.”

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