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Concern at British and Irish no-deal Brexit planning - UK Government confirms no agriculture border checks

 

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Cows stand under a sign got a disused Irish border vehicle registration and customs facilitation office outside Dundalk, Ireland. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)

Cows stand under a sign got a disused Irish border vehicle registration and customs facilitation office outside Dundalk, Ireland. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)

AFP/Getty Images

Cows stand under a sign got a disused Irish border vehicle registration and customs facilitation office outside Dundalk, Ireland. (Photo by Paul FAITH / AFP)

A leading Northern Ireland retail group has expressed concern that the Irish and UK governments are preparing for a no-deal Brexit.

Retail NI Chief Executive Glyn Roberts said that a no-deal scenario would be an "economic disaster" for Northern Ireland.

On Tuesday the Cabinet announced a ramping up of planning for a no-deal Brexit with Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit withdrawal deal facing significant challenges to gain approval in parliament.

Ministries have been allocated £2bn in the event of a no-deal Brexit when the UK leaves the EU on March 29.

The money is intended to fund more border offices, boost national security and ensure that UK trade remains uninterrupted.

Plans unveiled on Wednesday revealed that the Irish Government is preparing for a hard border with Northern Ireland for food and livestock.

The Irish Government's plan includes recruiting extra Garda officers and buying additional land at ports and airports to deal with a "significant increase" in checks if the UK leaves with no deal.

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The European Commission also announced it was starting its preparations for a no-deal Brexit.

Their plans aim to limit disruption in key areas such as finance and transport.

Mr Roberts said that the publishing of the no-deal plans had been a "major cause for concern" amongst the Northern Ireland business community.

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Glynn Roberts

Glynn Roberts

Glynn Roberts

“The Prime Minister’s draft withdrawal deal is in no way perfect, but it is definitely preferable to crashing out of the EU with no deal,” he said.

“Those who oppose the draft withdrawal deal have not set out a viable plan B, which would get agreement with the EU”

“MPs need to back this deal, otherwise we face the prospect of economic instability following March 2019”

On Thursday the UK Government committed to no immediate additional checks on agricultural products crossing the Irish border in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In response to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee's report on Brexit and Agriculture, the government said it would take a "risk based approach" to import checks, which will see no additional checks to begin with.

The NI Affairs Committee has called on the European Union to make a similar commitment following the government move.

Chair of the Committee Dr Andrew Murrison MP said that the decision was a "step in the right direction".

"Farmers and producers across Northern Ireland have been crying out for some explanation from the Government of how they will be able to trade with Ireland after Brexit," Dr Murrison said.

"The Government's response to my Committee's report on agriculture commits to avoiding checks on agricultural products at the Irish border. This is a step in the right direction, but further clarity is still needed on the important issues of financial support, live animal exports and the agricultural work force.

"It is essential that exports of agricultural products to Ireland do not face unnecessarily stringent checks. The ball in now in the EU’s court to make a similar commitment to the UK."


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