The UK government's attempts to effectively tear up parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol have cleared their latest hurdle in parliament.

The Northern Ireland Protocol Bill completed its committee stage in the House of Lords after peers spent four days debating amendments, amid claims it is a "pig of a law".

The bill's biggest test is expected to come when further amendments are discussed and voted on at report stage, given the government lacks an overall majority in the unelected upper chamber.

Foreign Office minister Tariq Ahmad, closing the committee stage, told peers that there is more detail required, "both in terms of regulations and information to be shared".

Independent crossbencher John Kerr previously said efforts to secure changes to the legislation are like "trying to put lipstick on a pig".

Liberal Democrat foreign affairs spokesman Jeremy Purvis said today that "it's got lipstick on now, it's got a bit more make-up, we've given it a nice frock, but it's still a pig of a law and that's not changed.

"It's illegal, it's a power grab and it won't work, and fundamentally those three aspects are what we will have to decide about whether it even goes into report."

Earlier today, European Commission vice-president Maroš Šefčovič suggested that UK-EU agreement on checks between Britain and Northern Ireland could happen within weeks, with the right "political will".

Mr Šefčovič, the European Brexit negotiator, made the comments in Westminster during a meeting of British and European parliamentarians.

"This is the area where we do not seek any political victory. We just want to solve the problem," he said.

Discussing EU proposals to reduce checks, he said: "Is it too much to do this? Can we not find pragmatic, technical solutions to make this thing work?

"I believe it could be done, if there is political will, I'm sure that we can sort it out really within a couple of weeks because really both sides of our negotiating teams we know these topics from all angles."

Earlier, Mr Šefčovič told parliamentarians that he did not believe the EU and the UK were "worlds apart" on the protocol, as he warned that unilateral action by the UK government would have "serious" consequences.

Maroš Šefčovič made the comments in Westminster during a meeting of British and European parliamentarians

In Egypt, Mr Sunak met Ms von der Leyen as both attended the Cop27 climate conference, with Mr Sunak stressing the need to "find solutions" to the "very real problems" caused by the post-Brexit arrangements in the region.

Mr Sunak inherits from his predecessors Liz Truss and Boris Johnson the problem of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which is vocally opposed by unionists who claim it cuts off the region from the rest of the UK.

The post-Brexit solution, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland, is cited as the Democratic Unionist Party's main reason for refusing to return to powersharing.

The instability in Northern Ireland has raised concerns in Dublin, Brussels and Washington, and the row between the UK and the EU shows few signs of coming to a rapid conclusion, despite indications of a more positive tone from the British side in recent weeks.

Ms von der Leyen called it a "good first meeting".

"We face many common challenges, from tackling climate change and the energy transition to Russia's war against Ukraine," she tweeted.

She said she looked forward to "constructive co-operation" between the two countries.

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak meets with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen during the UNFCCC COP27 climate conference

In London, Europe Minister Leo Docherty spoke for the Government at a meeting of the UK-EU parliamentary partnership assembly and told a roomful of European and British politicians that it remained the UK's "preference to resolve this through talks".

"We are engaging in constructive dialogue to find solutions," he said.

There, he hit out at the EU's decision to deny British access to research programmes such as Horizon, accusing the bloc of failing to fulfil its part of the agreement.

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"It brings no conceivable disadvantage to the EU or its member states, but the EU has politicised scientific co-operation by linking it with the Northern Ireland Protocol," he said.

"Putting politics in the way of scientific collaboration constrains human potential and hurts everybody."

On the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which would tear up the Northern Ireland Protocol and is currently in the House of Lords, Mr Docherty said: "We are not expediting the progress of that Bill. Many of you will know that laws, like sausages, take time to be made and they are quite slow.

"It is going through its normal course through the legislative procedure."

"We're not expediting it, but we're not halting it. We're just letting it go forward as it would."