BREXIT minister Lord Frost wore Union Jack socks at heated meetings between Boris Johnson and EU leaders it has emerged.

The Prime Minister met separately with Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and then with Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, the presidents of the European Commission and European Council at the G7 summit in Cornwall which was overshadowed by a deepening row over the Northern Ireland protocol.

Lord Frost attended all three meetings wearing the red, white and blue flag socks.

The UK negotiated and agreed to the protocol last December after opposing a previous "backstop" plan - designed to prevent a hard border in Ireland - which provided for the UK as a whole to have a common customs territory with the EU until a solution was delivered to avoid the need for customs controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

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Johnson had been a fierce critic of the backstop and resigned from Theresa May's government saying it should be scrapped.

But the new protocol negotiated by Johnson was opposed by the main Unionist party in Northern Ireland the DUP over concerns it created new customs checks with Britain and weakened the region's status in the UK.

Loyalist violence broke out in Belfast as a result of the checks with EU leaders suggesting one way to move forward would be for the UK to sign up to EU veterinary rules (ensuring eg food that doesn't meet EU standards doesn't reach the single market.

However, the UK have insisted said they won't follow Brussels rules.

The National:

Lord Frost stands beside Boris Johnson as he signs the UK/EU Brexit deal last December

Instead, the UK wants to unilaterally extend a grace period despite the EU warning of further action.

In a series of meetings in Cornwall on Saturday, the French president, German chancellor, European Commission president and European Council president confronted Johnson and Frost over their failure to implement the protocol.

Dr Kirsty Hughes, director of the think tank the Scottish Centre on European Relations, said Frost's decision to wear Union Jack socks would have prompted "eye-rolling" among the EU leaders.

She said: "It looks a bit silly and not serious which if relations were good wouldn't matter but when relations are as bad as they are - not least Macron's restrained anger at Johnson and the UK side stirring up unnecessary rows every morning, as he put it - then it will certainly have provoked some eye-rolling. 

"EU politicians and observers do wonder aloud where the former UK went - the one that did serious diplomacy and international relations. Whether it's socks or lies or provocations, the current UK does not impress."

After the meetings on the protocol Johnson said he would not hesitate to suspend it by triggering article 16 if the EU does not agree to implement the agreement in a way that is less intrusive in terms of checks on goods crossing the Irish Sea from Britain to the North.

“Of course we make the point continuously we are part of one great, indivisible United Kingdom, ” he told a press conference at the end of the G7 summit.

“What I am saying is that we will do whatever it takes to protect the territorial integrity of the UK.”

The EU leaders warned Johnson that further unilateral action by Britain on the protocol could trigger retaliatory action and urged him to dial down the rhetoric about the dispute.

Downing Street briefed journalists that when Johnson asked Macron how he would feel if sausages from Toulouse could not move freely to Paris, the French president said it was not comparable with the Northern Ireland situation because both cities were in the same country.

“We have serially seen senior EU figures talk about Northern Ireland as if it was some kind of different country to the UK. It is not only offensive, it has real-world effects on the communities in Northern Ireland, creates great concern, great consternation,” Raab told Sky News.

A former diplomat Frost was the chief negotiator for exiting the European Union and negotiated the now disputed Northern Ireland protocol with the EU's Michel Barnier.

The protocol was then signed off by Johnson as part of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement at 10 Downing Street on December 30, 2020. 

Frost was made a life peer in September 2020 and appointed to Johnson’s cabinet in March this year.

He previously served as special adviser to Johnson when he was Foreign Secretary in Theresa May’s government.

Frost became a full member of the Cabinet, and a Minister of State in the Cabinet Office, on March 1.

He inflamed tensions in Scotland last month and was accused of “clumsy control-freakery” after he wrote to the devolved nations insisting that they inform London of all contact with the EU.