Belfast Telegraph

General Election 2019

Corbyn document on Brexit tariffs for Northern Ireland firms to GB 'complete nonsense' says Johnson

By Gareth Cross and PA

Boris Johnson has said Labour claims that his Brexit deal would lead to customs checks between Northern Ireland and Britain are "complete nonsense".

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Jeremy Corbyn said he had obtained a confidential government report which "drives a coach and horses" through the Prime Minister's claim that there will be no border in the Irish Sea under his plan.

But the Prime Minister insisted voters should believe him when he says there will be no checks on goods.

Asked about the Labour leader's claims, Mr Johnson said: "I haven't seen the document you're referring to but that's complete nonsense, and what I can tell you is that with the deal that we have we can come out as one whole UK."

"They should believe exactly what I say, which is that there will be no goods going from GB to NI or from NI to GB because we are going to come out of the EU whole and entire, and that was the objective that we secured."

Mr Corbyn said the document, marked "official, sensitive", had provided the "cold hard evidence" that Boris Johnson had been "misleading" people about his Brexit deal.

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

"We have now caught Johnson red-handed misrepresenting his own Brexit deal," he told journalists.

"This is cold hard evidence that categorically shows the impact a damaging Brexit deal would have on large parts of our country."

Brandishing the document, titled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access to the UK Internal Market, at a press conference in central London, he said it was proof there would be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

The 15-page document shared by Mr Corbyn appears to be a slideshow prepared by the Treasury.

The leaked document 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 Corbyn said the document painted a "damning picture" of the Prime Minister's deal, especially when it came to Northern Ireland.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson at St Pancras Station, London on board a train to go on the General Election campaign train in Kent. Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

Mr Johnson had said there would be no checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under his exit terms, but Mr Corbyn said the document suggested that was not true.

The Labour leader said page five of the document stated: "There will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain."

"It is there in black and white. It says there will be customs declarations, absolutely clearly, for trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain," Mr Corbyn said.

"The Government cannot rule out regulatory checks, rules of origin checks and animal and public health checks also.

"For trade going the other way, from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, there will be all of the above plus potentially damaging tariffs."

Mr Corbyn said the report claimed Mr Johnson's deal will be "highly disruptive to the Northern Irish economy".

"It says this deal will be the equivalent of imposing tariffs on 30% of all purchases made in Northern Ireland," he said.

The Labour leader also said the report warns of the potential for fraud, saying Northern Ireland could become a "backdoor into the GB market for the avoidance of import duties".

Mr Corbyn claimed the document "drives a coach and horses through the Prime Minister's claim that there will be, in his words, no border in the Irish Sea".

"It's simply not true," the Labour leader said.

"Johnson's deal will be disastrous for businesses and jobs all across the UK, and the Government's confidential report confirms this."

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