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Failing to secure Brexit trade deal 'dangerous' for public health, warns SDLP's Hanna


Claire Hanna

Claire Hanna

Claire Hanna

It would be dangerous for the public's health if a trade deal is not agreed with the EU during Brexit negotiations, SDLP MP Claire Hanna has warned.

Speaking in the House of Commons, the South Belfast MP said: "The disruptive end of the transition, right in the middle of this battle with the pandemic and winter pressures is bad enough, and leaving without a deal would be downright dangerous for people's health."

Responding for the Government, Northern Ireland minister Robin Walker said Northern Ireland's position and the supply of goods were protected by the Protocol agreed between the EU and UK.

"Unfettered access is delivered both in terms of north/south movements and in terms of access to the rest of the United Kingdom that provides crucial support to Northern Ireland," he said.

Labour's shadow Northern Ireland minister Karin Smyth said the Government had been a "monumental failure" in its preparations for post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland.

She said: "It is the fault of this Government."

EU negotiator Michel Barnier is currently involved in face-to-face talks with his UK counterpart Lord Frost in the Belgian capital in a bid to find agreement on the outstanding areas.

Fisheries continues to be a major obstacle to a deal and neither side would be moved on reports that an agreement on access rights to British waters is in the offing.

The Sun reported that the EU had agreed to revert to new scientific criteria that could see UK fishing quotas double, although the change would not come in for a number of years.

The UK Government and Brussels have indicated they are still a way off achieving consensus on the future of fishing, with Downing Street saying there remained "significant gaps" on the "most difficult areas" in the talks.

"We will only be able to make progress if the EU accepts the reality that the UK will have the right to control access to its waters at the end of this year," said Mr Johnson's spokesman on Tuesday.

"What we are asking for is a simple, separate fisheries framework agreement which reflects our rights in international law and provides for annual negotiations over access and sharing opportunities based on the scientific principles of zonal attachment."

Belfast Telegraph