UK foreign secretary Liz Truss has told MPs she believes “there is a deal to be done” to resolve the deadlock over Northern Ireland’s post-Brexit arrangements.
Speaking in the British House of Commons during FCDO questions, Ms Truss said she was taking a “constructive approach to these negotiations” as she faced cross-party questions on the status of the talks.
Conservative Philip Hollobone warned: “Two years on from Brexit, can she confirm that disputes cannot go unresolved forever and this situation has to be brought to an end sooner rather than later?”
Ms Truss acknowledged the “urgency of this situation”, adding: “Which is why we have been holding intensive talks with the EU to resolve the very real issues there are for traders in Greath Britain and Northern Ireland.
“We do need to make sure that we maintain the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the UK, and we fix this issue once and for all.”
DUP MP Gregory Campbell said: “Is the Secretary of State aware that confidence in Northern Ireland that the Government are going to take decisive action on this and to do it quickly has evaporated and we need to see that action taken immediately?”
Ms Truss replied: “I am working very hard with my EU counterparts to resolve the very difficult situation in Northern Ireland and it is needed that we sort this out as soon as possible, that’s why we’re in intensive negotiations.
“I do believe there is a deal to be done and I think that’s in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland, the people of Great Britain and also the people of the EU.”
The SNP’s Philippa Whitford asked: “Does the Foreign Secretary not recognise that demands to exclude the ECJ (European Court of Justice) are confrontational and suggestions that Article 16 removes the Protocol in its entirety are misleading and creating unrealistic expectations within Northern Ireland?”
Ms Truss told MPs: “I’m taking a constructive approach to these negotiations, I was in Brussels yesterday, meeting (European Commission vice-president) Maros Sefcovic.
“I do believe there is a deal to be done that helps protect peace and political stability in Northern Ireland, that enables the free flow of goods between GB and Northern Ireland and our officials are negotiating all this week.
“I’ll be seeing Maros Sefcovic again next week to make positive progress.”
Ms Truss added: “The fact is that the Northern Ireland Protocol is not working. We need to make sure that the dispute resolution mechanism under the Protocol is in line with that in the UK-EU trade and cooperation agreement and end the role of the ECJ as the final arbiter.”
Responding to a question from Labour’s Hilary Benn, Ms Truss said: “Our view is that the type of arbitration mechanism we need is the type in any standard trade agreement which is an independent arbitration mechanism.”