Northern Ireland: Unionists march against Brexit arrangements
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And Adrian Hill pointed to the fact that the number of checks at Northern Irish ports dwarfed those at Rotterdam – even though the volume of goods passing through the Dutch port dwarfs those which pass through Belfast and Larne. Mr Hill, a former officer in the Royal Engineers who among other diplomatic posts worked as a member of the Channel Tunnel team at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the COBRA Committee of the Cabinet Office, offered a candid assessment of the performance of Boris Johnson’s Government during the course of a column written for the Conservative Woman website, suggesting Britain’s “schoolchildren” politicians were not “tough enough” to deal with the bloc.
Figures included on the website of the Port of Rotterdam reveal it handled 436.8 million tonnes of goods throughout 2020, making it by far the biggest port in Europe.
By contrast, the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) put the total tonnage through Northern Ireland (NI) ports in 2019 at 27.4 million – barely six percent of the Rotterdam’s figure from a year later.
However, in the face of ongoing tensions between London and Brussels in relation to the Northern Ireland Protocol, which commits Northern Ireland to adhere to EU single market rules with regard to transporting goods to and from the British mainland, Mr Hill suggested the EU was using the issue to make a political point.
Referring to Lord David Frost, the UK’s Brexit minister, Mr Hill explained: “The EU is insisting on more checks between a million and a half people in Ulster than between 400 million Europeans and the rest of the planet, although Lord Frost’s staff say that one should not confuse electronic checks with the rare physical checks in Rotterdam.
“Unless the latest grace extension is prolonged, some 30,000 agrifood checks will be required each day.
“Our electronic clearance system cannot talk to the EU system. Sorting that out might take another two years. If successful, I’m told it would be the customs wonder of the world.”
Mr Hill added: “Once again, Dave Frost is taking the common sense approach, but he needs the support of us, the voters.
“Here’s why. This mess has been allowed to drift for far too long. We can’t rely on his fellow politicians, they seem not to see the obvious right under their noses.”
Furthermore, Mr Hill suggested there had been “quite a lot of collusion” between Ursula von der Leyen, Martin Selmayr, the bloc’s Permanent Representative to Austria and the right hand man of her predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker, and the “butter-wouldn’t-melt politicians of Dublin”.
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He warned: “This is the annexation of Ulster with paper instead of electronics. If you make it so difficult to do business with England, local traders will be forced into the Republic’s economy.
“Ursula is playing that favourite German card: trip up the other team’s centre forward.
“We saw it played with David Davis although that landed her with Boris Johnson as PM. Now we hear they miss Gove. (Are they trying to get rid of Gove as well or has he told them that he’ll surrender?)
“Meanwhile I’d like to know how much we know about the scheming and plotting that’s been going on over the phone between Berlin and Brussels with Dublin, Edinburgh (or should I now say Glasgow) and Cardiff?”
As for what should happen now, Mr Hill suggested it was time to take the gloves off.
He said: “What should we do? Boycott – starting with Irish beef, whiskey and whatever. It’s a shame but they have to know.
“Above all boycott expensive items from the EU, cars, machinery, aircraft, because until we reduce imports from the EU to a trickle people like Ursula and Mutti, let alone Selmayr, all of whom have brain blinkers and skins thick as jackboot leather, won’t get it.
“Our schoolchildren politicians are not tough enough to deal with these people. We are fellow voters and taxpayers.
“Fellow voters and taxpayers, the estimated costs of these customs arrangement are £ 750million to £ 1billion already . . . time to get on with it? I think so.”
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