A SCOTTISH LibDem MP has demanded the UK Government rules out triggering Brexit clause that would essentially suspend part of the Norther Ireland Protocol – warning it cannot be used as “a get-out-of-jail free card”.

Orkney and Shetland MP Alistair Carmichael warned UK ministers that activating Article 16 of the protocol “would be catastrophic”.

Article 16 allows either the UK or EU to take “unilateral” safeguard measures if the deal is causing serious practical problems or harming trade including suspending parts of the agreement.

The Irish Government has stressed that triggering the article would be "reckless and irresponsible".

Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Carmichael vented his frustration at the lack of an update from UK minister on the Brexit stalemate.

He said: “At the very least, we would have wanted to hear some commitment today from the Government benches that there would be no triggering of Article 16 this side of Christmas.

“The disruption that that would cause would be catastrophic, but still we hear nothing from them.”

Mr Carmichael added: “Article 16 does not exist as a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Government when they do not like the deal that they have done.

“To invoke it in the way in which Government ministers speak would be seen as an act of bad faith on the part of the UK Government.”

He said “pragmatic solutions” are needed instead of “more posturing”, adding “the problems of which the Government now complain are all one of their own making”.

Cabinet Office Minister Michael Ellis said Lord Frost met with EU negotiator Maros Sefcovic on November 12.

He said Lord Frost noted “there remained significant gaps to be bridged” and it remains the UK’s preference to find a “consensual way forward”.

He said talks have now “intensified” and that Lord Frost has been in Belfast this week, and will meet with vice president Sefcovic at the end of this week “to consider progress”.

He said: “Article 16 safeguards were and are a legitimate part of the protocol’s provisions.”

Shadow Northern Ireland minister Alex Davies-Jones warned that the “last thing this country needs is a damaging trade dispute” with the EU.

She said: “Trust is hard won and easy to lose.

“I say to the minister, in sincere hope he listens, this is not the context in which any responsible Government would force another high-stake, divisive stand-off.

“With the cost-of-living crisis and growing instability, the last thing this country needs is a damaging trade dispute with our nearest trading partners.”

Mr Ellis recognised people are concerned about cost of living but insisted the “Northern Ireland Protocol has real-life consequences as to cost of living”.

He added: “Businesses also know that what we would be doing by using Article 16, should we have to do so, would be to alleviate pressures on movement of goods.

“It is a safeguard mechanism in order to improve a situation which is unsatisfactory. It is not there to cause disruption, it is there to do the opposite.”