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Maros Sefcovic: Liz Truss horrified after EU negotiator slips on ice ahead of Brexit meeting

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  • Liz Truss
    Liz Truss
    British Conservative Party politician (born 1975)

Any hope that Brexit tensions might thaw today took a hit after EU Brexit negotiator Maros Sefcovic almost slipped over on an icy step.

Liz Truss was left open-mouthed as she watched Mr Sefcovic, the European Commission’s vice president, narrowly avoid landing on his backstop.

It was unfortunate timing as a number of photographers were waiting for a photo opportunity at Chevening, in Kent, ahead of crucial talks about the Northern Ireland protocol.

As a result, the Foreign Secretary was photographed slack-jawed as she and others watched on in horror at the near-tumble.

Mr Sefcovic managed to regain his composure and was able to take a group shot with Ms Truss, Europe minister Christopher Heaton-Harris and Northern Ireland secretary Brandon Lewis.

 (POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
(POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Ahead of the meeting, Ms Truss, who is acting a the UK’s lead Brexit negotiator since the resignation of Lord Frost last month, said there was a “deal to be done”.

In a statement released prior to the talks, she 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.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic, with Europe minister Christopher Heaton-Harris, left, and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, right (PA Wire)
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss and EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic, with Europe minister Christopher Heaton-Harris, left, and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis, right (PA Wire)

“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 protect 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 is seeking fundamental changes to the operation and oversight of the protocol, while the EU has offered limited changes aimed at reducing the impact on Northern Ireland businesses.

Originally agreed in October 2019, the Northern Ireland protocol prevents a hard Irish border by keeping it inside the EU’s single market for goods.

It also creates a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK, something the EU accepts is causing difficulties for businesses.

The UK government has said the protocol is “unbalanced” which makes it practically and politically unsustainable.

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