The UK’s former chief Brexit negotiator has urged the Government to “fully and enthusiastically embrace the advantages of Brexit” as he warned of a plot to undermine the agreement.
Lord Frost referred to a “secret” cross-party gathering on foreign affairs, which was held at the Ditchley Park retreat in Oxfordshire last week, as “a further piece of evidence that many in our political and business establishment want to unravel the deals we did to exit the EU in 2020 and to stay shadowing the EU instead”.
He told the Daily Mail: “That’s why so many of those responsible for Theresa May’s failed backstop deal were there, while I and those who actually delivered the Brexit agreements were not.”
It was originally reported by The Observer that Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove – who co-led the Vote Leave campaign in 2016 – was in attendance for the discussions, alongside senior members of Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer’s shadow cabinet.
“I and millions of others want the Government to get on with that instead of raising taxes, deterring investment and pushing public spending to its highest level for 70 years.”
The significance of the event was played down by sources with knowledge of the meeting.
It is understood Mr Gove attended the meeting because he is a governor at Ditchley Park. He no longer has any involvement in setting Brexit policy in his role as Levelling Up Secretary.
A Labour source said: “This was a bog standard Ditchley Park conference. Their events are always cross-party.“
Another source familiar with the event said it was a “quite dull conference” on foreign affairs.
The Prime Minister looked to swerve questions about the meeting, instead focusing on what the UK Government is doing to make the most of its post-Brexit freedoms.
He added: “It is not about the meeting – I’m talking about what the Government is doing, and that’s making sure we capitalise on the benefits of Brexit.”
Lord Frost’s comments come after the UK and the EU reiterated their commitment to finding “joint solutions” to differences around the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol was agreed between the two parties in 2019 as a way to unlock the logjam over securing a Brexit withdrawal agreement.
There is mounting speculation that a deal is finally on the cards to reduce the red tape on trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.