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Brexit: Liz Truss threat to trigger article 16 a stale replay of Frost formula.

Liz Truss’s Sunday Telegraph article on the Northern Ireland protocol provoked just the reaction she will have hoped for, with most reports focusing on her threat to trigger article 16. Some British commentators suggested that the foreign secretary, who has unconcealed ambitions to be prime minister, was signalling a tough, new approach to the negotiations.

But in stating that Britain “remained ready” to use article 16, Truss was simply repeating the formula her predecessor, David Frost, used at the end of every communication about the protocol. Frost never took the threat off the table but as EU ambassador to Britain Joao Vale de Almeida said on Sunday, its endless invocation left Brussels unimpressed.

By the time he resigned last month, Frost understood that triggering article 16 risked sparking a trade war with the EU that Britain could not afford and which Boris Johnson could not be trusted to remain committed to prosecuting.

French presidency

Truss knows that if she takes unilateral action on the protocol, the EU is likely to respond by giving the required nine months’ notice of the termination of the Trade and Co-operation Agreement (TCA). With France holding the council presidency, there is also a chance of immediate retaliation likely to bring disruption to a British economy struggling with inflation and supply chain problems.

In the Sunday Telegraph, Truss described the problems with the protocol as “myriad and manifest” but most of those she listed would be eased by the EU’s current proposals. After his final meeting with Marus Sefcovic last month, Frost said the EU’s proposals in a number of areas were a step forward but did not go far enough and this also appears to be Truss’s opening position ahead of this week’s talks.

Red line

Frost dropped Britain’s demand that the role of the European Court of Justice should be removed from the protocol as a precondition for any agreement. There is no indication that Truss has resiled from that position as she states that independent arbitration of the protocol is “what we want to see” but does not identify it as a red line.

She says she will not sign up to anything “which still sees goods moving within our own country being subject to checks” but also says that “we are happy to continue checking goods going on to the Republic of Ireland to protect the EU single market”. A deal could emerge from within these contradictions and ambiguities but Truss must know as Frost did that Sefcovic has no mandate to give much more than he has already offered.

Massive cyberattack breaches several Ukrainian government websites.

Massive cyberattack breaches several Ukrainian government websites.

Ukrainian officials are assessing the damage caused by a massive cyberattack on several of its government websites. CBS News cybersecurity analyst and former director of the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency Chris Krebs says he...

First lady Jill Biden visits Kentucky to survey tornado recovery efforts.

First lady Jill Biden visits Kentucky to survey tornado recovery efforts.

First lady Jill Biden is visiting Kentucky to survey the recovery efforts after the area was devastated by a tornado outbreak last month. The state's governor just signed a new $200 million relief bill, and lawmakers extended the state of emergenc...

Several Ukrainian government websites breached in massive cyberattack.

Several Ukrainian government websites breached in massive cyberattack.

Ukrainian officials are assessing the damage done by a massive cyberattack on several government servers. The U.S. has condemned the attack and plans to help with the investigation. CBSN technology reporter Dan Patterson has more on what this atta...

More Black men facing joblessness crisis

More Black men facing joblessness crisis

Researchers say the toll of unemployed Black men is costing the U.S. Economy about $50 billion dollars a year. Algernon Austin, director for race and economic justice at the Economic Policy Institute, joins CBSN to discuss. CBSN is CBS News’ 24/7 ...

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Major winter storm sweeps across much of U.S.

Major winter storm sweeps across much of U.S.

A foot of snow could bury parts of the Plains and Midwest as the South and Northeast brace for severe weather. Several states are already preparing for potentially dangerous conditions. CBSN New York meteorologist John Elliott joins CBSN with the ...

Ukraine '99.9% sure' Russia behind cyber attack

Ukraine '99.9% sure' Russia behind cyber attack

A top Ukrainian security official has told Sky News he's "99.9% sure" Russia was behind a cyber attack on government websites. Read more here: SUBSCRIBE to our YouTube channel for more videos: Follow us on Twitter: Like us on Facebook: Follow us o...

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