Brexit: Expert says Europe is ‘nervous’ about UK’s direction
Ireland’s Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney hit out at Boris Johnson’s Brexit as he outlined the “consequences” of the trade deal with the EU. Brandon Lewis has said it is important not to “overstate” issues at the Northern Ireland border which have led to a shortage of supermarket supplies, Brandon Lewis has said. The Northern Ireland Secretary told MPs that whilst there have been “challenges” to overcome in the first few weeks since the end of the Brexit transition period, “goods are moving” to and from the island.
Speaking to ITV’s Peston, Mr Coveney said: “There are some issues now in terms of supply chains and that is clearly a Brexit issue.
“It is part of the reality of the UK now being outside of the EU and the Customs Unions and Single Market.
“And what we have in place in Ireland is a protocol which effectively defacto creates an extension of the EU Single Market for goods into Northern Ireland, even though it is part of the UK.
“And that requires a certain amount of checks on goods coming into NI and that will cause a lot of disruptions that I think companies will take some time to get used to.
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“Some companies simply were not ready and that is what we are seeing at the moment.”
He added: “The UK decided to go for the kind of Brexit it wanted and there is a consequence to that.
“Customs checks and systems are all part of trade across the Irish Sea.
“It is there and it is very real. The truth is we need to work with that new reality. I can assure you that we will work very closely with the UK and EU on that.”
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Since January 1, all movements of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland require a customs declaration, with some products needing further certification too.
Business representatives have described “significant problems” encountered on the trade border in the first few weeks of its operation.
Speaking in the Commons during Northern Ireland departmental questions, Sir Jeffrey asked: “What is the Secretary of State going to do to resolve this problem?”
Responding, Mr Lewis said: “(Sir Jeffrey) and I share a strong desire to ensure trade keeps flowing as smoothly as possible with unfettered access, as we promised, to Northern Ireland businesses – which we have delivered, but also to ensure that we’ve got that smooth flow for Great Britain into Northern Ireland as well.
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“We’re working closely and I will continue to work closely with (Sir Jeffrey) and his colleagues in the Northern Ireland executive to do so.
“I think it is important that we don’t overstate some of the issues – that doesn’t mean that there aren’t issues, I appreciate there have been challenges.
“The grace periods, though, are working well, goods are moving and we are working closely with traders as they adapt, particularly here in Great Britain.”
Mr Lewis added that “as the Prime Minister rightly said last week, if we need to, we will not resist using Article 16 if it is appropriate and right to do so”.
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