Brexit minister Lord Frost has said “significant” gaps still remain following his latest talks with the European Commission on the impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Following a video conference call with commission vice president Maros Sefcovic, Lord Frost said they would speak again next week while their teams will have intensified talks in the coming days.
In a statement, he confirmed the UK remained ready to trigger Article 16 – suspending some of the arrangements in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement – if a settlement cannot be found.
“I made clear that the UK still wanted to find a negotiated solution if that was possible and was ready to keep working constructively and intensively to that end,” he said.
“Nevertheless the gap between our positions is still significant and progress on many issues has been quite limited.
“Our position remains as before: that the threshold has been met to use Article 16 safeguards in order to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement, if solutions cannot be found.”
The UK is pressing for an easing of checks on goods moving from mainland Great Britain to Northern Ireland under the protocol, arguing they are damaging business and straining community relations.