The German foreign minister quoted Oasis when he expressed optimism that the UK and the EU could move on from their post-Brexit spat over the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Annalena Baerbock said trade deals with Northern Ireland remained the “Achilles heel” of Britain’s relationship with the bloc, but said she hoped a “responsible and pragmatic” compromise would be found soon.
“Although we cannot go back, we can decide to move towards a future of common good,” the minister said after meeting Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in London.
Referring to the Gallagher brothers’ greater success in discussing the “bitter” experience of Brexit, Ms Baerbock said: “It’s like losing a family member…we want to put past hurts behind us.” Or how we used to sing when I was studying here: don’t get mad.
Cleverly said talks were moving “quite quickly” to resolve the protocol dispute, suggesting Rishi Sunak’s government wanted a deal before the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in April.
“We are not going to wait for an anniversary, we are working on it as quickly and as quickly as you would expect, and we will continue to work hard for a resolution,” he told reporters during a joint news conference on Thursday. .
“We’re moving pretty fast and doing a great job,” he added. “We very much appreciate the much more constructive tone in the talks we’ve had between the UK and the [European] Commission.”
As UK and EU negotiators continue to discuss ways in which the protocol will ease controls on goods moving between GB and NI, Rishi Sunak’s government argues that it could use a highly controversial bill to unilaterally review the agreement if negotiations fail.
Ms Baerbock said the EU was ready to address the UK’s concerns about the protocol “in a spirit of creativity and flexibility”, saying she wanted positive BGM to lead to “concrete negotiations and decisions so that we can find a solution”.
Meanwhile, Number 10 welcomed an apparent change in tone from the Irish government after Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said earlier this week that he felt the protocol was “too strict” and admitted that “all parties” they had made mistakes during Brexit.
Sunak’s official spokesman said the UK government “has said for some time that we have always believed that it is possible to enact the protocol in a flexible way, so obviously such comments are welcome.”
But Varadkar’s spokesman later said the Irish prime minister had no intention of suggesting that the text of the protocol, agreed by Boris Johnson’s government, could be renegotiated.
He said that the Taoiseach had only indicated that flexibility in the implementation of the protocol was important.
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