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Now or never! Truss sets out fresh demands for EU as face-to-face confrontation due TODAY


The Foreign Secretary is hosting the European Commission’s Maros Sefcovic for two days of talks as she seeks to find a breakthrough in negotiations. It is the first time the pair will have met face to face since Ms Truss took over responsibility for Protocol discussions from Lord Frost.

The Conservative peer quit the Government in December over disagreements with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on taxation and the cost of living crisis.

Taking over the reins, the South West Norfolk MP has set a deadline of the end of this month for a solution to be found.

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Truss said: “There is a deal to be done that protects peace in Northern Ireland, defends our Union, and maintains the integrity of the United Kingdom and EU.

“But it will require a pragmatic approach from the EU.

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“I will be putting forward practical, reasonable solutions starting from these fundamental principles, with a view to agreeing a plan for intensive negotiations.

“The EU has a clear responsibility to help fix the myriad problems caused by the Protocol and protects the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

“As fellow believers in liberty and democracy, we should be capable of reaching an agreement that delivers for Northern Ireland and allows us to unleash the full potential of our relationship.”

The UK originally put forward proposals to make the Protocol more sustainable in the long run last July, with Brussels publishing its own plans in October.

Intense negotiations have been taking place since then with little progress made.

Ms Truss is hoping to woo her counterpart over dinner at her grace-and-favour country home, Chevening House.

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The pair will bond over Scottish smoked salmon, Welsh lamb and Kent apple pie before kicking off talks.

It is thought the Foreign Secretary is planning to bring her own approach to talks rather than replicating the style adopted by her predecessor.

However, she has made clear there is no chance of the UK watering down its demands.

Reiterating the threat regularly made by Lord Frost, she warned the EU last year that she was willing to trigger Article 16 of the Protocol, the legal mechanism to suspend implementation of the deal, if the bloc did not compromise in talks.

Unionists argue the Protocol in its current form is creating frictions in trade within the UK’s internal market.

They say customs checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain must be scrapped as they are having a detrimental impact on Northern Ireland.

There are also concerns over the European Court of Justice’s role in overseeing the implementation of the deal.

The Protocol has been blamed for an uptick in violence in the province with UK ministers warning that without a deal, suspension of the Protocol may be necessary to protect the Northern Ireland peace agreement.



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