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EU must shake off ‘ill will’ over post-Brexit trade, says UK’s top Europe adviser

The European Union should “shake off any remaining ill will” toward Britain for leaving the bloc and focus on building a good relationship, David Frost, the U.K.’s top Europe adviser, said Sunday.

In an op-ed for the Sunday Telegraph, Frost defended the U.K. government’s decision earlier this week to unilaterally extend grace periods on post-Brexit customs checks at Northern Ireland’s ports. The EU said it will take “infringement proceedings” against the U.K. for breaching the terms of the Brexit deal.

Frost, a former chief Brexit negotiator who is now Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s point man on future ties with the EU, blamed the EU for an escalation in tensions and vowed to defend Britain’s interests.

“I hope [the EU] will shake off any remaining ill will towards us for leaving, and instead build a friendly relationship, between sovereign equals,” he wrote. “That is what I will be working towards, acting constructively when we can, standing up for our interests when we must.”

In January, the EU threatened a hard border on the island of Ireland in an attempt to control vaccine exports, then quickly backtracked following heavy backlash from both Ireland and the U.K.

The EU’s behavior, Frost said, “has significantly undermined cross-community confidence” in the Brexit deal’s protocol on the sensitive Northern Ireland border.

The situation “remains fragile,” he wrote. “That is why we have had to take some temporary operational steps to minimise disruption in Northern Ireland. They are lawful and are consistent with a progressive and good faith implementation of the Protocol.”

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