Belfast Telegraph

Brexit document lays bare 'inevitably grim outcome' of Johnson's deal for Northern Ireland says UUP

UUP leader Steve Aiken (Liam McBurney/PA)
UUP leader Steve Aiken (Liam McBurney/PA)

UUP leader Steve Aiken has described a document detailing the effects of Boris Johnson's Brexit deal on Northern Ireland as "appalling".

Mr Aiken said that while the document should not come as a surprise it's findings should "appal anyone who has Northern Ireland's best interests at heart".

He was speaking after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn unveiled the document at a press conference in London on Friday morning.

Mr Corbyn said the document was proof that the Prime Minister's deal would create a trade border in the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and Britain.

It stated that the vast majority of Northern Ireland businesses who export to Britain will struggle to meet new costs as a result of the deal.

The 15-page document, which appears to be a slideshow prepared by the Treasury, also says that high street goods in Northern Ireland's stores are likely to increase in price, affecting business profitability and that the plan could lead to loss of jobs in key employment sectors, including retail.

Mr Johnson has repeatedly said his deal would not create a border down the Irish Sea. He rejected the document saying that Mr Corbyn's claims are "completely untrue".  

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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson

DUP MP Sir Jeffrey Donaldson said his party had warned Mr Johnson about his deal and that it would be bad for Northern Ireland.

However he said Mr Corbyn's intervention was nothing but a "campaigning tool" and that no unionist would be "tricked by his rhetoric".

"He has in the past and would in the future work in cahoots with those who want to destroy the union," Sir Jeffrey said.

The Lagan Valley candidate said the DUP would continue to oppose the deal in the House of Commons and that it must be changed.

Mr Aiken accused the DUP of facilitating the deal by agreeing to a regulatory border in the Irish Sea.

“Even HM Treasury says that Northern Ireland will be symbolically separated from the union and our economic union would be undermined," the former Submarine Commander said.

"Furthermore the statement that the withdrawal agreement has the potential to separate Northern Ireland in practice from whole swathes of the UK`s internal market shows why this deal must be stopped.”

The UUP leader said the deal would have an "inevitably grim outcome for Northern Ireland" and "should set alarm bells ringing in all sections of the business community and beyond".

“The focus until now has been almost exclusively on cross border trade and now we face the situation where we are on the brink of being torn away from our biggest market with totally ruinous consequences," Mr Aiken said.

Alliance MLA Stephen Farry said: "There is no such thing as a good or sensible Brexit, with any form of Brexit entailing new divisions and barriers. Theresa May’s deal was a much better way of managing these tensions than the Boris Johnson deal.

"It is wrong to talk about any special measures in terms of constitutional change, as Northern Ireland already does do many things differently from the rest of the UK and would need to under Brexit. But the Johnson deal undoubtedly provides huge enormous challenges for this region. Alliance is committed to addressing or mitigating these."

Director of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium Aodhan Michael Connolly said that the document "shouldn't be a surprise" as many of the concerns had been highlighted previously, despite the PM's denials.

He said the document spelled out "new costs and complexity that there has never been before and neither our industry nor our Northern Ireland consumers can afford it"

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