Liz Truss to take on role as chief Brexit negotiator
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Last week, Lord Frost resigned over “concerns about the current direction of travel”. It has since been announced that Foreign Secretary Liz Truss would be taking over his brief as Brexit Minister.
Writing about her new role, Mujtaba Rahman, senior research fellow at the LSE European Institute, argued Liz Truss will be “a bit more positive” than her predecessor.
She said: “On face of it no change (she can’t look softer than Frost to Tory hardliners) but feeling at Westminster is that she’ll be a bit more positive & try to resolve NI issue in new year.
“When Truss talks of constructive relationship with EU, she probably means it.”
She added: “Frost didn’t.”
This came after Ms Truss gave a statement on her first call with Maros Sefcovic on the UK-EU relationship.
In her statement, she reiterated Lord Frost’s threat to trigger Article 16 but noted the UK’s “preference remains to reach an agreed solution” with the EU.
She said: “We want a constructive relationship with the EU, underpinned by trade and our shared belief in freedom and democracy.
“Resolving the current issues is critical to unleashing that potential.
“The UK position has not changed. We need goods to flow freely between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the role of the ECJ as the final arbiter of disputes between us, and resolve other issues.
“We must pick up the pace on talks in the New Year.
“Our preference remains to reach an agreed solution.
“If this does not happen, we remain prepared to trigger Article 16 safeguards to deal with the very real problems faced in Northern Ireland and to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its dimensions.”
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After Ms Truss’ new responsibilities were announced, European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said he hoped to continue negotiations with Ms Truss in the “same constructive spirit”.
He tweeted: “I take note of the appointment of @trussliz as co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council.
“My team and I will continue to cooperate with the UK in the same constructive spirit on all important tasks ahead, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland.”
Ms Truss is very popular within the Conservative party, having ranked No 1 in “satisfaction ratings” in a Conservative Home poll of party members, ahead of Defence Secretary Ben Wallace, Lord Frost, Jacob Rees-Mogg and Chancellor Rishi Sunak.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney – who has been critical of the UK’s approach to EU negotiations – welcomed the appointment, saying: “I’ve worked well with Liz previously in agriculture and more recently in foreign affairs.
“I look forward to working with her now on Brexit. Much work ahead but progress is achievable in the new year.”
In his letter of resignation, Lord Frost said it was the introduction of plan B coronavirus measures, including the implementation of Covid passes, that prompted his decision.
He also said he had become disillusioned by tax rises and the cost of net zero policies.
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