Lord Frost said yesterday he understood why businesses were abandoning trade with Northern Ireland because his Brexit agreement had made it “too much trouble” to continue.
Yesterday, the Cabinet Office said Brussels had sprung an update on it that more than 600 new measures affecting Northern Ireland had been adopted in the past three months, with 200 more in the pipeline.
Frost, the negotiator of the deal that created the Irish Sea border, admitted he had not fully foreseen the “chilling effect” of the punishing new red tape that has left smaller firms facing higher costs.
There are “companies in Great Britain who decide that it’s all too much trouble, reasonably enough — [they] can’t be bothered to engage with the process,” he acknowledged at the House of Lords Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland Subcommittee.
“They are often SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] or micro-businesses. Dealing with this is a significant call on their time and they just decide it’s not worth it,” he added.
“That’s why you are seeing some of the trade diversion and supply-chain issues to Northern Ireland that we’re seeing.”
The admission came ahead of Lord Frost unveiling a new “approach” to the protocol next week.
© The Independent