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With this Bill, we will guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland businesses to rest of UK market

Brandon Lewis and Alok Sharma

NI Secretary of State Brandon Lewis and Alok Sharma, Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, write for the Telegraph

Alok Sharma

The new UK Internal Market Bill we are introducing to Parliament today will protect jobs and trade across Northern Ireland after the Transition Period ends, guaranteeing that companies can trade unhindered in every part of the UK while maintaining our country's world leading standards on worker's rights, food and the environment.

With this Bill, we will ensure the smooth operating of the UK internal market and legislate to guarantee unfettered access for Northern Ireland's businesses to the rest of the UK market, ensuring these commitments form part of a coherent UK-wide system.

From January 1, 2021, powers in at least 70 policy areas previously held by the European Union will flow directly to Stormont and the other devolved administrations of the United Kingdom for the first time.

This will give the devolved administrations power over more issues than they have ever had before, including over air quality, energy efficiency of buildings and elements of employment law.

Taking back control from Brussels presents an opportunity we have not seen in generations. An opportunity to make the UK, and all its four nations, the best place in the world to work and grow a business.

Currently, unelected EU bodies spend billions of pounds of money on this country's behalf. From January 1 this will rightly change, allowing the UK Government to invest in communities and businesses across Northern Ireland as we recover from coronavirus. This power will cover infrastructure, economic development, culture, sport and will support educational, training and exchange opportunities both within the United Kingdom and internationally.

The Bill will also set out limited and reasonable steps to ensure a safety net is in place at the end of the Transition Period ensuring this Government is always able to deliver on its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland, preserve the huge gains of the peace process and protect Northern Ireland's place in our United Kingdom.

As part of the UKIM Bill, we will ensure Northern Ireland is fully part of the UK's customs territory.

We will also guarantee that businesses in NI have true unfettered access to the rest of the United Kingdom and make sure there is no legal confusion about the fact that while Northern Ireland will remain subject to the EU's State Aid regime for the duration of the Protocol, Great Britain will not be subject to EU rules in this area. Once the Transition Period ends, rules that have regulated how each home nation trades with each other over the past 45 years will fall away.

Without this urgent legislation to preserve the status quo of seamless internal trade, inconsistent standards, rules and regulations set in Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland could create new barriers to trade between each nation, unnecessary red tape for businesses and additional costs for consumers.

By introducing this Bill we are guaranteeing an open, fair and competitive market across the whole United Kingdom, ensuring regulations from one part of the country will be recognised in another.

The Northern Ireland Executive will still be able to set their own standards as they do now, while also being able to benefit from the trade of businesses based anywhere in the UK.

We are grasping the opportunities presented by leaving the European Union with both hands - by guaranteeing the free flow of trade across the United Kingdom, we will ensure the continued prosperity of people and businesses across Northern Ireland.

Belfast Telegraph