cabinet minister on Wednesday attempted to smooth relations with Brussels over Brexit amid fears that Britain could be preparing to introduce new legislation to override the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove insisted this morning that “there isn’t anything that is going to be ripped up”, amid reports that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss could introduce a new Brexit Bill to suspend some checks on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland as soon as next Tuesday.
But while he said the UK will continue to negotiate with Brussels to try to resolve differences over the protocol, he warned that “no option was off the table”.
Mr Gove told BBC Breakfast: “Liz Truss will be meeting Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission vice president, tomorrow… I know that both of them are fully committed to making sure we resolve some very difficult issues that have arisen.
“You would expect a UK Government when it is thinking about the security of the entire United Kingdom to say that there is no option that is off the table and that is absolutely right.”
Mr Gove’s more diplomatic tone hinted at a Cabinet split with Ms Truss said to be taking a more hawkish line on unilaterally suspending the protocol, which Democratic Unionists say is harming business in Northern Ireland.
With the DUP insisting it won’t form a new executive at Stormont following last week’s assembly elections until there is “decisive action” on the protocol, the Foreign Secretary said yesterday the arrangements were posing a threat to security and stability.
Ms Truss added that current EU proposals to reform the protocol failed to “properly address the real issues affecting Northern Ireland and in some cases would take us backward”.
Brussels chiefs say they won’t renegotiate the treaty and have again warned that unilateral action by the UK will only serve to sour relations. Some European leaders have threatened to cancel the entire Brexit deal signed just three years ago. Mr Šefčovič said: “Only joint solutions will work. Unilateral action by the UK would only make our work on possible solutions more difficult.”