Brexit minister Lord Frost and EU Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic walked away from their discussions in London without any signs of a breakthrough. Failure to break the impasse leaves both sides at a loggerheads over how to fully implement the Brexit deal’s protocol to avoid a hard border. Following the meeting, Lord Frost said: “The problem we’ve got is the Protocol is being implemented in a way which is causing disruption in Northern Ireland, and we had some pretty frank and honest discussions about that situation today.
“There weren’t any breakthroughs, there aren’t any breakdowns either, and we’re going to carry on talking.
“What we really now need to do is very urgently find some solutions which support the Belfast Good Friday Agreement, support the peace process in Northern Ireland, and allow things to return to normal.
“What the EU is insisting on is we should operate the Protocol in an extremely purist way.
“The reality is that it’s a very balanced document that’s designed to support the peace process and deal with the very sensitive politics in Northern Ireland.
“If we can find pragmatic solutions that work with that then we will be very happy to work with them.”
It raises the prospect of a full-blown trade war with Downing Street now even closer to unilaterally scrapping swathes EU red tape for Northern Ireland.
Ahead of the talks, Lord Frost warned time was running out to reach an agreement and called on Brussels to adopt a “common sense” approach to customs controls on goods moving from Great Britain to the region.
Mr Sefcovic suggested the bloc is poised to act “firmly and resolutely” if the UK unilaterally delays the implementation of the trade checks.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that urgent action was needed to protect peace in Northern Ireland.
Tensions have flared in the region over the EU’s hardline approach to the post-Brexit border fix.
Eurocrats are hellbent on imposing a rule that bans the export of British sausages to Northern Ireland.
It has been suggested that the bloc would retaliate with trade sanctions if Downing Street ignores its regulation.