Brexit: UK imports and exports evaluated by expert
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The Cabinet Office Minister has called for Brussels to budge and claimed the Brexit arrangements for Northern Ireland “make no sense”. Responding to his comments, the European Commission said they were “unhelpful” and urged the UK Government to “uphold its political commitments”.
But Conservative MP and Brexiteer John Redwood called on Lord Frost to “sort out” the Great Britain-Northern Ireland issue by imposing unilateral measures on the bloc unless it agrees to a “sensible” approach.
The Tory MP said the EU is “violating” the indispensable Good Friday Agreement, adding Northern Ireland communities are concerned by the bloc’s approach.
He wrote in an online blog post: “They should try reading the Good Friday Agreement which is about looking after the interests of both the Protestant and the Catholic communities in Northern Ireland.
“This heavy-handed approach by the EU violates the Good Friday Agreement as far as the loyalist community in Northern Ireland is concerned.”
In an op-ed in the Mail on Sunday, Lord Frost wrote: “There is no evidence that goods not meeting EU standards are getting into the EU’s single market via Northern Ireland.
“All this paperwork and checks – to deal with a risk that does not exist.
“The EU takes a very purist view of all this.
“It seems to want to treat goods moving to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK in the same way as the arrival of a vast Chinese container ship at Rotterdam.
“We did not anticipate this when we agreed the Protocol and it makes no sense.”
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Commenting on Lord Frost’s words, John Redwood added: “Lord Frost’s recent article is right in tone and content. He now needs to be careful in negotiations not to allow the EU to insert its controls in the way of GB/Northern Ireland trade.
“That trade should be regulated and policed by the UK and NI authorities.
“Of course they should make sure people are not using easy access to NI to then send things onto the Republic which are not EU compliant.
“There is no evidence this is happening. The UK authorities have every interest in not allowing that.”
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He continued: “There have been smuggling problems on the UK/Republic border during our time in the EU which were always sorted out by co-operation from each side whilst respecting the different jurisdictions.
“Either the EU agrees sensible mutual enforcement with each jurisdiction taking responsibility on its own territory or the UK must simply impose that on the UK side.
“It is the best and most practical way of implementing the stated aims of the Protocol.”
After the United Kingdom left the European Union’s orbit at the start of this year, checks and tariffs were introduced on some goods moving from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland, which has a land border with EU member Ireland.
The checks triggered anger and a perception among pro-British unionists in Northern Ireland that the Brexit deal divides them from the rest of the United Kingdom, a shift they say could sink the 1998 peace deal that brought an end to three decades of violence there.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who had promised there would be unfettered trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, unilaterally extended a grace period on certain checks to minimise supply disruption, a move Brussels said breached the Brexit divorce deal.
Now Britain is asking the EU to introduce checks slowly, according to the BBC. From October, checks on fresh meat products could begin, extending to dairy products, plants and wine from the end of Jan. 2022, the BBC said.
A spokesman for Mr Johnson said Britain wanted solutions to be found rapidly and called on the EU to take a “risk-based approach” to trade with Northern Ireland.
Preserving the delicate peace without allowing the United Kingdom a back door into the EU’s single market via the Irish border was one of the most difficult issues of nearly four years of tortuous talks on the terms of Britain’s exit from the bloc.
Some fear the dispute over the Northern Ireland protocol, designed to prevent a “hard” border, could spill over into violent protest in the province in the coming months.
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