Post-Brexit relationship with Brussels "more than bumpy" says Lord Frost

The UK's chief Brexit negotiator Lord David Frost has criticised the EU for its behaviour since the trade deal agreed by the two sides came into force six weeks ago saying the relationship had been "more than bumpy" and more "problematic" than he had hoped.

Addressing a House of Lords committee on the EU he cited the EU's threat to increase controls on vaccine exports to Northern Ireland, as well as "niggling border issues", as two examples, calling for "a different spirit" from Brussels going forward.

Asked about his thoughts on the situation, Cabinet Officer Minister Michael Gove compared it to a bumpy start to a flight, saying: "We all know that when an aeroplane takes off, that is the point where you sometime get an increased level of turbulence.

"But eventually, you then reach a cruising altitude and the crew tell you to take your seatbelt off and enjoy a gin and tonic and some peanuts. We are not at the gin and tonic and peanut stage yet, but I am confident we will be."

Lord Frost said the UK wanted "friendly cooperation between sovereign equals as our vision of the future", but said: "I don't think it has been quite the experience of the last few weeks, if we are honest about it.

"I think the EU is still adjusting somewhat, as we thought they might, to the existence of a genuinely independent actor in their neighbourhood."

Lord Frost, who currently acts as the prime minister's representative on Brexit, listed a number of issues that had arisen in the first few weeks of the deal being in place including the threat from the EU to control vaccine exports to Northern Ireland which he said had created "political difficulties... which played back into the broader relationship".

He said criticism of the Oxford AstraZenica vaccine by EU figures including French President Emmanuel Macron as well as the bloc's decision to introduce an indefinite ban on UK shellfish added to the problems.

"None of those things are in themselves dramatic, although some have been very, very serious," he continued. "I think it has been more than bumpy in the last six weeks, I think it has been problematic".

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