Home collateral Boris Johnson ‘short of friends’ as Brexit minister resigns

Boris Johnson ‘short of friends’ as Brexit minister resigns

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Boris Johnson has been warned by a prominent Tory MP that he is running out of time and friends to help keep his promises, as the Mail on Sunday reported that Brexit Minister Lord Frost had resigned.

Lord Frost, who led negotiations with the EU, reportedly handed his resignation letter to Boris Johnson last week.

But the Mail on Sunday reported he was convinced to stay until January.

The newspaper reported that it was the introduction of Plan B coronavirus measures that motivated Lord Frost’s decision, including the implementation of the Covid passes.

The issue led Mr Johnson to his biggest backbench rebellion to date this week, when nearly 100 of his MPs challenged the party whip to vote against the passes.

And Brexiteer MP Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) warned that Lord Frost’s resignation showed the Prime Minister “lacked the time and friends to deliver on the promises and discipline of a true Conservative government”.

He tweeted: “Lord Frost made it clear, 100 Tory backbenchers made it clear, but mostly the people of North Shropshire did.”

The Mail on Sunday also said Lord Frost had become disillusioned with the tax hikes and the cost of net-zero policies.

The negotiator has recently been locked into several rounds of tense talks with European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic as the UK and the EU attempt to close loopholes in post-Brexit deals.

His resignation increases pressure on Mr Johnson, who has already suffered potentially his worst political week since becoming Prime Minister with the Rebellion, the loss of a former Tory safe seat in North Shropshire in the wake of elections and lingering allegations of parties in Whitehall during lockdown restrictions.

DUP Leader Jeffrey Donaldson (Liam McBurney / PA)

In Northern Ireland, DUP chief Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said Lord Frost’s departure was a bad sign for Mr Johnson’s pledge to remove the border with the Irish Sea.

Mr Donaldson tweeted: “This government is distracted by internal strife, and Lord Frost was frustrated on several fronts.

“We wish David the best of luck. We have a strong relationship with him and his team, but it raises more serious questions for the Prime Minister and his approach to NI Protocol.

One of Lord Frost’s most difficult challenges has been trying to find a way to resolve the issues with the Northern Ireland Protocol, which aims to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

But the implementation of the protocol has caused problems with customs, agribusiness, trade and drugs, among others.

Movements have been seen this week on medicines, but red lines remain for both sides, including the UK’s oversight role for the European Court of Justice.

Lord Frost said this week that he expected negotiations with the EU to continue until 2022.

European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, with whom Lord Frost had negotiated (Eddie Mulholland / Daily Telegraph)

Stormont Deputy Prime Minister Michelle O’Neill said Northern Ireland would not become “collateral damage in Conservative chaos”.

She tweeted: ‘David Frost negotiated Brexit which a majority rejected here. He has since undermined the protocol, limiting the damage Brexit has on our people and our economy.

“Now we need some momentum in the talks to make it work better.

“The North will not be collateral damage in the Conservative chaos. “

And the former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, Arlene Foster, called Lord Frost’s resignation “huge”.

In a tweet, she said: “Lord Frost’s resignation from cabinet is a big moment for the government but huge for those of us who thought he would measure up to NI.”