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Boris Johnson right when he says there'll be no Irish Sea customs checks, says minister


Kwasi Kwarteng

Kwasi Kwarteng

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Kwasi Kwarteng

The Prime Minister was right to claim there would be no barriers to trade crossing the Irish Sea after Brexit, a business minister has said.

Kwasi Kwarteng defended Boris Johnson, who said there would be "no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind" under his withdrawal agreement.

Mr Johnson's comments suggested Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had been wrong to say goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would face checks as a result of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

But Mr Kwarteng told Sky's Sophy Ridge On Sunday that the PM was "absolutely right" in his remarks. "I think that the whole point of the deal is that we want to have a frictionless border but at the same time we want to leave the EU...

"From our side we want to have as little bureaucratic interference as possible and I think what the Prime Minister said is absolutely on the money."

It was his understanding there would be no exit summary declarations.

Mr Johnson told Conservative supporters and NI business figures last week that the Secretary of State's advice was not correct. The Tory leader, in a video shared by Manufacturing NI on Twitter, said there would be "no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind" as a result of his withdrawal agreement.

Mr Johnson was asked by Irwin Armstrong, owner of CIGA Healthcare, whether he could "go back to my company in the morning and tell my staff we will not be filling in any customs declarations for goods leaving Northern Ireland to go to GB?".

The PM replied: "You can."

Mr Kwarteng was also asked about Mr Johnson's likening of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to Soviet leader Stalin, who persecuted Russian landowners in the 1930s.

He said: "The comparison was about the philosophy and the Marxism."

Belfast Telegraph