Belfast Telegraph

Failure over EU exit data showed 'total indifference'

By Staff Reporter

Civil servants in London giving their counterparts in Northern Ireland "limited visibility" of information critical to preparing for Brexit demonstrates the Government's "total indifference" toward the region, an MP has said.

The BBC obtained an internal document circulated among Stormont departments back in June 2018.

Officials had initially withheld the information as it was felt disclosure would "weaken or inhibit" their negotiating position, and given Brexit was still a "live issue" it needed to be considered internally "freely and frankly".

The Brexit Gateway Review was compiled by experts in the Department of Finance and assessed the Brexit preparations carried out by the Department for Agriculture and Rural Development (DAERA).

It suggested communication between the department in Northern Ireland and officials in London was not adequate.

"Northern Ireland officials have limited visibility of Brexit information even in areas that are critical to Northern Ireland interests," the review said.

It went on to say as the original March Brexit deadline approached communication improved. But the lack of a devolved government here was an extra complication at a time of "very significant challenge", it said.

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard said the revelations showed "the total lack of concern in London regarding the impact on people here". DAERA said it had an "excellent working relationship" with its colleagues in London.

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