Alliance Brexit spokesperson Stephen Farry MLA has said there is still a need for clear commitments around the Single Market after Brexit, after reports the UK Government has agreed a new customs proposal to put to the EU.
Ministers have reportedly signed off on the proposed deal, which would see the UK match EU tariffs after 2020 if there is no deal on their preferred customs arrangements. Dr Farry warned of the dangers of prolonged uncertainty on business confidence if long-term decisions continue to be put off.
“This may be a small step in the right direction, but a full judgement cannot be made until the full details of this proposal are made. There is at least some recognition neither the customs partnership model nor the technological solution are viable, at least in the immediate future, and something has to give in terms of mutually contradictory positions.
“It is clear regardless of the nature of the future EU-UK relationship, the backstop agreed in the December Joint Report does need to be put on a formal legal footing. An extended commitment to de facto customs union is necessary to avoid a hard border in Ireland and to protect the economy, but it is not itself sufficient. Significant commitments in relation to the single market will be required.
“This approach also has the air of continuing to put off difficult decisions. Until a realistic and long-term position becomes clear, uncertainty will remain for businesses, which in turn will impact on investment decisions. There does seem to be continued entertaining of unrealistic approaches around technology.
“For Alliance, the necessary commitments are to a permanent Customs Union and full participation within the Single Market, if not for the UK as a whole then for the region of Northern Ireland.”