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Boris Johnson's EU trade plan could mean 'brick wall border' in Irish Sea, claims Northern Ireland retail chief

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A general view of Belfast Harbour

A general view of Belfast Harbour

PA

Aodhan Connolly

Aodhan Connolly

A general view of Belfast Harbour

Reports that Prime Minister Boris Johnson will accept border checks following Brexit to avoid having to stick to EU standards could mean a “brick wall instead of a paper wall” in the Irish Sea, it’s been claimed.

The UK leaves the EU on Friday, entering a 12-month transition period in which Mr Johnson has said he expects to be able to conclude a free trade agreement with the EU.

But according to the Daily Telegraph, the Prime Minister is to say in a speech next week that “sovereignty is more important than frictionless trade”.

That would mean he would ignore warnings from Brussels that the UK needs to accept the need to adhere to EU standards in order secure the best deal.

But the lower the convergence between UK standards and EU standards, the more likely it is that there will be checks on goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

Aodhan Connolly, director of the NI Retail Consortium, said the stance was “not good news for Northern Ireland” though he said it could be a negotiating tactic by the Prime Minister.

“What I would say is that this could be Boris’s poker face; however it doesn’t give business what they need," he said.

“Depending on the degree of divergence that we have from the EU’s standards, it could be a matter of seeing whether we have a brick wall or a paper wall down the Irish Sea.”

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Belfast Telegraph