David Frost, 56, claimed the European Union would make a “historic misjudgement” if it refused to accept Britain’s amended Northern Ireland Protocol. The Brexit Minister, who put forward the new “forward-looking” deal in Lisbon, urged Brussels to back an agreement that would end the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice over Ulster.
“It is not just about the court,” he said.
“It is about the system of which the court is the apex – the system which means the EU can make laws which apply in Northern Ireland without any kind of democratic scrutiny or discussion.”
The ex-CEO of the Scotch Whiskey Association also claimed: “Even now, as the EU considers possible solutions, there is an air of it saying, ‘We have decided what’s best for you and will now implement it’.”
Frost added: “To apply EU law without consent in one part of it and to have any dispute deriving from this arrangement to be settled in the courts of one of the parties.”
The current Protocol, which Unionist figures across Ulster have criticised, imposes checks on goods travelling from Great Britain to Northern Ireland and forces Ulster to abide by the ECJ.
The UK has instead suggested disputes should be settled through independent arbitration.
But Lord Frost also used his Lisbon speech to reaffirm the Government’s Unionist credentials.
“The EU can insist on no change but if it does it must remember it is this Government, the UK Government, that governs Northern Ireland, as it does the rest of the UK,” he said.
“Northern Ireland is not EU territory.
“It is our responsibility to safeguard peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, and that may include using Article 16 if necessary.
“We would not go down this road gratuitously or with any particular pleasure, but it is our fundamental responsibility to safeguard peace and prosperity in Northern Ireland, and that is why we cannot rest until the situation has been addressed.”
The European Commission is due to publish its own proposals to amend the Protocol.
The EU’s reformed deal is expected to include measures that allow supermarket chains to continue to supply the province without the need for detailed checks.
Brussels’ Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic has also promised to change elements of EU law that remove regulatory barriers that prevented medicine used by the NHS from being prescribed to residents in Northern Ireland.
According to the Times, the European Commission will reject Mr Frost’s proposals.
An EU source told the broadsheet: “The ECJ is intrinsic to full single market access.
“If the ECJ is removed then Northern Ireland is removed from the single market.
“If that happens the protocol is a dead letter — destroyed.”