Labour finally attacked the EU for its stubborn attitude in Brexit talks last night, as Brussels was urged to show “flexibility” in a customs row. Shadow foreign secretary David Lammy admittedly a deal could only be done on the Northern Ireland Protocol if the bloc drops its hardline approach to discussions.
Government ministers have become increasingly frustrated over the past year with the stance adopted by the EU, warning that changes to the Protocol need to be made to protect the integrity of the UK.
Prime Minister Liz Truss has been left threatening to take unilateral action to suspend aspects of the international agreement in a bid to fix the problems caused by the deal.
And yesterday Mr Lammy appeared to at last agree that the EU needed to drop its intransigence.
Speaking at Labour’s annual conference in Liverpool, he told a packed room of Labour members: “It’s going to require flexibility, of course, on the European side.”
READ MORE: Keir Starmer hints stocks and shares on firing line with new tax
The UK Government requested changes be made to the Protocol last year amid concerns it was having a damaging impact on Northern Ireland’s economy.
The DUP has refused to form a power-sharing executive with Sinn Fein until the issues caused by the deal are fixed, meaning there is no operating devolved government in the province.
Britain requested the EU reopen Protocol negotiations in order to make the changes necessary for a new deal.
However, talks between the UK and EU broke down after months of negotiations due in part to Brussels’ refusal to look again at the international agreement.
Mr Lammy demanded both Brussels and the UK knuckle down to find a solution to the problems of the Protocol.
“We genuinely believe you’ve got to roll up your sleeves and negotiate and we can negotiate from a basis of trust with our European partners,” he said.
Labour MP Rupa Huq has whip suspended after ‘racist’ Kwasi rant [UPDATE]
John McDonnell savages Starmer… but makes embarrassing blunder [INSIGHT]
Starmer unveils nationalised energy plan and sends warning to Tories [IN DEPTH]
“I’m not convinced that supermarket supply chains is not something we can’t work on, that VAT is not something that we cannot work on.”
He added: “There is friction, clearly, with trade and that will affect jobs, that will affect our economy.
“We’ve said, we’re very clear, we want to work as best we can to deal with many of those problems that have arisen.”
Customs checks are required on all crossing the Irish Sea to the province as part of the 2019 Brexit withdrawal agreement.
It means hauliers are forced to abide by extensive bureaucratic red tape to make shipments from one part of the UK to another.
The checks have led to a rise in food prices in Northern Ireland as well as concerns that many companies will just refuse to sell products to the area.
However, Mr Lammy also took a swipe at Ms Truss for a breakdown in diplomatic relations with the EU and accused ministers of walking away from the Brexit deal they agreed.
He said: “It is important to say this is their deal that they struck, this was the deal they wanted, this was the deal many of us in this room warned them about.”