Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said a proposed amendment to the Customs Bill by Jacob Rees-Mogg and supported by the DUP risks crashing the UK economy.
Dr Farry said the amendment, which seeks to rule out any customs checks down the Irish Sea, would remove any prospect of a Withdrawal Agreement and essentially guarantee a no deal Brexit.
“Alliance does not want to see any new borders, barriers or friction anywhere in these islands. The clear ways to avoid this are either through the UK remaining within the EU or opting for a genuine soft Brexit based around a new Customs Union and membership of the European Economic Area.
“At present, the backstop only arises from the decision to leave the EU, the need to protect the Good Friday Agreement and to avoid a hard border in Ireland. It is an insurance policy, only coming into play if no solution is provided to keeping the border open. It is not a constitutional issue and is consistent with devolution and existing precedents. The backstop does not cut off Northern Ireland from the Great Britain market, rather it allows us to more easily be part of both the UK and EU economies.
“The UK and EU has already signed up to the backstop in the December Joint Report. Finalising legal text is now the key issue for the Withdrawal Agreement and Transition deal. All other issues in the White Paper relate to the UK-EU future relationship.
“Therefore, it needs to be clearly spelt out the passage of this amendment would remove any prospect of a Withdrawal Agreement and would be tantamount to guaranteeing a no deal outcome. While this may appeal to some ideological Brexiteers, it would amount to crashing the UK economy. Business organisations and many individual employers have been clear on this. So there would be severe implications for many people’s jobs and livelihoods.
“For Northern Ireland, the consequences would be particularly severe, and there would be major implications for political stability.”