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Set deadline for ending Northern Ireland Protocol talks, DUP chief told Liz Truss

His comments suggest the DUP may seek to collapse Stormont by February if the UK and the EU fail to strike a deal to reduce customs checks on goods coming from Britain to the province. .

While the campaign for the Northern Ireland Assembly elections will effectively begin from March, it also opens the prospect of a Stormont suspension sooner than expected.

Downing Street and the Irish government have also indicated that the end of February was an informal deadline for the talks, fearing that a further delay could see the issue dominate the parliamentary elections.

But Sir Jeffrey’s calls will likely be seen as unnecessary in Whitehall, as the government has so far sought to avoid tight deadlines for talks in order to give negotiators sufficient breathing room.

While he initially threatened to pull out of Stormont and force a snap election in September, this was put on hold when protocol negotiations began to strengthen Lord Frost’s hand.

France will not use EU presidency to impose a tougher line in talks

His intervention comes shortly after Lord Frost left Cabinet, citing unease over the “direction of displacement” in government.

While the former Brexit minister has insisted he and Boris Johnson remain united on the protocol negotiations, it is understood that he was privately frustrated with the progress of the talks.

The UK has also dropped its demands for the immediate end of European Court of Justice oversight of EU rules that continue to apply in Northern Ireland, despite being one of the Lord Frost’s key priorities ahead of negotiations.

Meanwhile, to give Ms Truss a boost, EU diplomats told The Telegraph that France will not use its EU presidency to impose a tougher line in negotiations over the Protocol ‘North Ireland.

There were fears that Emmanuel Macron, the French President, would try to use his position to increase pressure on the UK amid an ongoing dispute over post-Brexit fishing rights.

“I fear that it is not the French presidency that is spoiling the discussions on the protocol,” said a diplomat. “From where we are sitting, the quality of the tone and the outcome of the discussions depend more than anything on the mood of two people – Johnson and Truss.”