(Bloomberg) — Brexit negotiations between the UK and European Union over the Northern Ireland Protocol are being conducted “in good spirits,” UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said Thursday.
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“There is definitely, definitely a desire in the UK and across the EU to get a resolution on this,” Cleverly said Thursday at a press conference in London alongside his German counterpart, Annalena Baerbock. He welcomed the “much more constructive” tone of recent talks with the bloc.
Cleverly said that the UK and Germany agreed on the need to fix issues which have arisen from the protocol, part of the Brexit deal which keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. Baerbock, for her part, said Germany wants to move on from Brexit and “leave behind the wounds of the past.”
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The UK and EU are locked in discussions to resolve a dispute over the protocol that has hampered relations between London and Brussels, since Britain completed its divorce from the bloc.
Time is ticking fast to reach a deal: unionists must take their seats in the region’s devolved government by Jan. 19 to avoid another election, and refuse to do so with the protocol in place as it stands, because it impacts trade with the rest of the UK. Also coming up in April is the 25th anniversary of Northern Ireland’s peace deal, which some in Westminster see as a natural deadline by which to resolve the dispute.
But Cleverly suggested resolution could come sooner, saying: “We’re not going to wait for an anniversary. We’re working on this with all the speed and alacrity as you would expect.”
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