Britain threatens to torpedo the Brexit deal ahead of the Northern Ireland elections


Northern Irish manufacturers would support a UK government bid to override the Brexit deal if it cuts customs controls.

The UK is reportedly preparing legislation that would allow it to halt parts of the deal that have slowed or halted exports of goods from Britain to Northern Ireland.

“It depends on what’s inside,” said Stephen Kelly, Chief Executive of Manufacturing NI.

Only a fraction of the controls set to apply under the Northern Ireland Protocol to the UK’s 2019 Withdrawal Agreement are currently in place.

“When the UK Government says they won’t implement them, it’s a very difficult position for companies to stand up and shout about it because we don’t want them at all,” Mr Kelly said.

“But if the UK continued to undermine Northern Ireland’s access to the EU market, then that would be a problem.”

EU officials have assured Mr Kelly that any retaliatory action by the bloc would be aimed at London, not Belfast.

“We have been made clear that if there is a dispute, the EU will take its responsibilities towards Northern Ireland seriously.

“It could mean that goods coming into Calais from Dover will be put in question.

“Or travelers heading to holiday homes in France could queue for six hours to board the ferry and have their ham sandwiches taken from them.”

Andrew Opie, director of food and sustainability at the British Retail Consortium, said Northern Ireland consumers must come first at any store.

“Retailers need long-term security for UK supply chains to offer Northern Irish customers the choice of affordable, quality products they have come to expect.

“We trust that any UK or EU intervention will support us in this and put Northern Ireland consumers at the heart of all decisions over the coming months.”

The protocol keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods while remaining in the UK’s customs union.

However, it draws a line along the Irish Sea by controlling food, pets, steel, plants, parcels and other goods coming into Northern Ireland from Britain.

Article 16 of the protocol allows the UK or the EU to take safeguard measures in the event of “serious economic, social or environmental difficulties”.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on a trip to India on Friday that Britain could correct the protocol by “very simple and sensible steps”.

Irish junior minister for European affairs Thomas Byrne said the UK law could not “undo” the protocol and warned the UK against “unilateral steps” ahead of the May 5 Northern Ireland Assembly elections.

A spokesman for the European Commission said Friday it had no comment to make on the reports.

“We are committed to working together with the UK Government to find lasting solutions for Northern Ireland to bring lasting reassurance to the people and businesses of Northern Ireland.” Britain threatens to torpedo the Brexit deal ahead of the Northern Ireland elections

Fry Electronics Team

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