Nigel Farage mocks Remainers over Brexit fears
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A House of Lords committee warned the region could become a “permanent casualty” of Brexit unless a compromise to the controversial Northern Ireland Protocol is found urgently. The committee, set up to examine the controversial post-Brexit trading arrangements for the Irish Sea, has published an introductory report on arrangements that have created economic barriers, with the findings unanimously agreed. Seven key findings and recommendations were made, the first of which warned trade between Britain and Northern Ireland has been “significantly disrupted” by protocol red tape and there is a real risk some UK businesses may withdraw from the Northern Ireland market.
The protocol provision for dual access for Northern Ireland business to sell unfettered within the UK market and EU single market still offers potential economic opportunities, but they would take time to materialise and would depend on political stability and certainty.
Business representatives have already identified a wide range of solutions to ease the bureaucratic burden, while steps are needed to ensure the views in Northern Ireland are better reflected at the UK and EU level.
One of the key steps would be an agreement between London and Brussels on veterinary standards, with the committee noting the fallout over how the UK might align its rules to the bloc under such an arrangement but has urged both sides to come to some sort of an agreement.
Finally, the committee warned alternatives to trade elements of the Protocol must be considered, particularly as in 2024, the Stormont Assembly will vote on whether to scrap those arrangements.
Lord Jay of Ewelme, who chairs the committee on the protocol, warned there is an urgent need from both sides to compromise over the post-Brexit trading arrangements in Northern Ireland.
He said: “That won’t be easy, but it is an absolute necessity that the UK and the EU should now work together urgently to identify solutions if Northern Ireland is not to become a permanent casualty of the Brexit process,”
“The tensions over the protocol currently seem insoluble. Yet that was also true of the political situation during the Troubles.
“But the peace process ultimately took root and flourished, through a process of time, patience, dialogue, and most of all trust.
“Those same qualities are now needed to address the problems that Brexit and the protocol present.”
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