EU rejects UK demands to overhaul Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland protocol

ITV News Political Correspondent Rupert Evelyn reports on the latest Brexit developments

UK demands to renegotiate a Brexit agreement with the European Union have been rejected, leaving huge questions over the future of the Northern Ireland protocol.

Brexit minister Lord David Frost earlier said issues being caused by the protocol mean "we cannot go on as we are", as he urged the EU to renegotiate.

But his proposal was flatly rejected by the EU.

European Commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said the EU is "ready to continue to seek creative solutions, within the framework of the protocol, in the interest of all communities in Northern Ireland.

"However, we will not agree to a renegotiation of the protocol."

He added: "We must prioritise stability and predictability in Northern Ireland. I look forward to speaking to Lord Frost soon."

Lord Frost, who negotiated the initial agreement under which the UK and Northern Ireland are currently operating, stopped short of unilaterally suspending the measures but said there must be "significant changes".

Lord Frost explains the issues with the Northern Ireland protocol and how he hopes to solve them

The Northern Ireland protocol is an agreement between the UK and EU that Northern Ireland can stay within the EU's single market in order to avoid checks within the island of Ireland.

But Mr Frost attacked the EU's "purist" implementation of the agreement, which he suggested is causing disruption to business in Northern Ireland and creating trade barriers across the Irish Sea.

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He set out the UK's blueprint for an altered agreement but suggested he could suspend current arrangements entirely if the EU did not renegotiate.

“These proposals will require significant change to the Northern Ireland protocol,” Lord Frost said, adding that the UK does "not shy away from that".

"We believe such change is necessary to deal with the situation we now face.”

He said both sides needed to "find a new path, to seek to agree with the EU through negotiations a new balance in our arrangements covering Northern Ireland to the benefit of all".

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The proposals published by the government include:

- An "evidence-based and targeted approach" to goods at risk of entering the single market, but products destined just for Northern Ireland would be allowed to circulate "near-freely".

- Continued access in Northern Ireland to goods from the rest of the UK, through a regulatory approach which accepts both British and European Union standards.

- A "normal" treaty framework to govern the arrangements, with no role for the Court of Justice.