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Brexit deal complex, bureaucratic and leaving more questions than answers, say Northern Ireland farmers

The Ulster Farmers’ Union said more clarity was needed.
The Ulster Farmers’ Union said more clarity was needed.
UFU president Ivor Ferguson
Margaret Canning

By Margaret Canning

The Ulster Farmers’ Union has said Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal is “complex and bureaucratic” in its first assessment of the plans.

While it said that a no-deal must be avoided, there were “more questions than answers” about the agreement reached on Thursday.

The plan would create a single regulatory market on the island of Ireland but brings some checks on goods coming into Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

The UFU had been in favour of former Prime Minister’s Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement and the backstop — which had placed it in opposition to the DUP.

The farmers’ union said: “More clarity is needed about how this new deal would work. While the proposals appear to address concerns around regulations and tariffs, our initial assessment deemed the plans complex and bureaucratic.

“In particular, we need clarity and detail around Northern Ireland’s access to EU trade deals once the transition period ends.

“If we are excluded, this would have a significant impact on trade between Northern Ireland and Rrepublic of Ireland.”

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It also said more certainty was also needed on Northern Ireland’s unfettered access to the Great Britain market. 

It added: “Our key objective from day one has been to secure trade that is as free and frictionless as possible east/west and north/south.

“A no-deal, however, remains the worst possible outcome for Northern Ireland’s family-run farm businesses and must be avoided.”

But Aodhan Connolly, the director of the NI Retail Consortium, said it was “encouraging” to see the deal.

“Retailers and consumers have long weathered under Brexit uncertainty and each passing day represents time, money and effort that struggling retailers can ill afford. With the Brexit clock still ticking down to a chaotic no deal it is finally time to take this risk off the table for good.”

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