UK-EU relations ‘more than bumpy’, says British Brexit leader

David Frost, UK representative for Brexit, tells parliamentary committee of disputes over vaccines, trade and Northern Ireland

FILE PHOTO: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Europe adviser David Frost leaves the European Commission headquarters after a meeting with officials in Brussels, Belgium, October 7, 2019. REUTERS/Francois Lenoir/File Photo

The UK government said its relations with the EU have been “problematic” since Brexit, after disputes over issues including vaccines, trade and Northern Ireland.

“It’s been more than bumpy in the last six weeks,” David Frost, the UK representative for Brexit and International Policy, told a parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

“I hope we’ll get over this. It is going to require a different spirit, probably, from the EU.”

Mr Frost, who negotiated the free-trade agreement with the EU, identified the bloc’s criticism of the UK’s approach to its vaccine programme, border delays and the accreditation of diplomatic missions as problems so far in 2021.

He said the EU was still adjusting to having a “genuinely independent actor in their neighbourhood".

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove likened the situation to the turbulence an aircraft experiences around take-off, before settling into stable flight at a cruising altitude.

“The crew tell you to take your seat belts off and enjoy a gin and tonic and some peanuts," Mr Gove said. “We’re not at the gin and tonic and peanuts stage yet.”

Mr Gove is due to meet European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic on Thursday to discuss problems with the Brexit settlement relating to Northern Ireland.

He has called for extensions to trade grace periods covering the region.

EDITOR'S PICKS