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Northern Ireland resident unable to receive ‘flowery tin of Jubilee shortbread’ due to protocol, according to DUP MP

Conor Burns accepts NI economy ‘surging’ in certain sectors but says GB-NI trade should be frictionless

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The constituent wanted to purchase shortbread to commemorate the jubilee. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

The constituent wanted to purchase shortbread to commemorate the jubilee. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

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DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

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The constituent wanted to purchase shortbread to commemorate the jubilee. Photo: Chris Jackson/PA Wire

Northern Ireland citizens were unable to purchase shortbread online to mark the Queen’s Jubilee, according to DUP MP Gregory Campbell.

The East Londonderry MP addressed the NI Affairs Committee on Wednesday on how the Protocol is affecting business.

He brought to the attention of Minister of State at the Northern Ireland Office, Conor Burns, an issue with a wholesaler in Scotland which would not supply shortbread into Northern Ireland.

“They had brought out for Her Majesty’s Jubilee a certain flowery tin of shortbread, it was quite nice by all accounts, and supplied it online to all those who applied – except for those in Northern Ireland,” Mr Campbell said.

A constituent contacted Mr Campbell who then rang the firm to establish the veracity of the complaint.

“To compound matters, not only could he not get supplied with that product over the past six weeks in time for the Jubilee, he was told he could get it from a firm in Dublin.

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“The wholesale supply firm in Scotland would supply larger amounts to Dublin because the paperwork required was such that it just wasn’t worthwhile to send half a dozen tins to someone in Northern Ireland.”

The DUP MP said it was even “more ridiculous” that goods could be sent from Britain to the Republic of Ireland where they can be easily accessed by NI citizens.

“You could get it from Dublin and they could send it up, you could travel down to Dublin and get the same product to the same place as the company would’ve supplied directly.

“That’s directly as a result of the implementation of the protocol. Surely things like that have to be addressed fundamentally.”

He sought assurances that any Bill brought forward by the British government will deal with “such nonsense”.

Mr Burns said that is a “very strong example” of how NI is being treated differently to the rest of the UK for a product that would pose “absolutely no threat to the EU single market”.

That demonstrates, he said, there should be a different set of arrangements for goods moving within the UK internal market compared to those moving through Northern Ireland into the European single market.

He made reference to the owner of a large Bangor company who said the protocol poses no danger as they’ve taken on someone to deal with the paperwork but Mr Burns said that is more difficult for smaller companies who may decided to disengage from the NI market.

He said there are at least 200 companies who have taken that decision.

At the meeting, Committee Chair Simon Hoare pointed to reports of growth in NI’s economy and asked if that was attributable to the protocol on in spite of it.

Mr Burns acknowledged there was a “scale of opportunity and challenge” in Northern Ireland.

He accepted there is “cause for optimism” as it is “surging ahead in specific sectors” such as Fintech and medical technology and the hospitality sector is “back to pre-pandemic levels”.

“Business is incredibly resilient… but in terms of the technicalities of the Protocol, it’s really about just trying to get processes in place that work and frictionless movement between GB and NI.

“And there’s been no question that the Protocol has had an impact on companies in Great Britain who have decided to stop supplying into the Northern Ireland marketplace.

“I could give you multiple examples of that where consumers are seeing, not vast amounts of stuff, but they are seeing some projects that have been hitherto freely available, no longer supplied into the Northern Ireland marketplace because of the friction and the costs and the certification that comes with the Protocol.”

Mr Burns said if NI’s productivity aligned with the UK average it would add an extra £16 billion per year to the NI economy and if the pay gap was closed between NI and the UK there would be an extra £57 a week for every full-time worker here.

If economic inactivity was brought in line with the UK average it would represent an extra 50,000 people on payroll – he described those as “seismic opportunities”.

He reiterated a “strong view” that the UK Government wants to see power-sharing restored.


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