5 January 2022
That seems to have led to the conclusion that alignment was the only way of solving these problems and, hence, took you in a direction that ended up with being part of the customs union, the Single Market and the backstop and all of that. [...] I think I got the impression, and the EU may tell you this is wrong, but it certainly seemed to us that they hadn’t swept away the cobwebs of the process that led to the departure of the previous Prime Minister and the policy that had underpinned that. [...] The first is, to play devil’s advocate, is it surprising that relations are tense when we threatened to tear up an agreement that we had signed only a year before, via the Internal Market Bill? Is it a surprise that they say they have lost trust in us? DF: I don’t want to rerun the arguments about the Internal Markets Act, which were all talked through at the time, though I do think some of the th. [...] AM: One of the other things you have suggested that caused a bit of a stir, I think it might have been in the Financial Times, was that one of the reasons why there is an unhappiness with the protocol is because the British government underestimated what sort of impact it would have on the movement of goods to Northern Ireland. [...] AM: On those trade points specifically, if, as I think is the case, the EU were willing to make this a short-term deal that we could revisit in the event that we needed to change our standards to accommodate a negotiation with a third party, that is problem solved short-term, isn’t it, at the very least? DF: We already have, in principle, the trade agreement with a third party, i.e.