The UK Government needs to provide detailed information on how trade checks between Britain and Northern Ireland are going to operate and ensure necessary staffing, infrastructure and IT systems are in place, Alliance MP Stephen Farry has said.
Dr Farry was speaking after the publication of a report by the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee into the Northern Ireland Protocol. The North Down MP, who sits on the Committee and who contributed to the report, said it posed major challenges to the UK Government to provide crucial information to local businesses.
“This is a significant and landmark report. MPs with different positions on Brexit share common ground in expressing deep concern at the pace of preparation and provision of information regarding the operation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“The Protocol is the inevitable outworking of the UK Government’s decision to opt for a hard Brexit and the responsibility to protect the Good Friday Agreement. But in that context, we should do all we can to minimise the impact of the Protocol on businesses and consumers. Yet realistically, this is still going to involve some degree of checks and increased costs for businesses and households.
“With just over five months to go, the UK Government need to provide detailed information on how checks are going to operate, and ensure the necessary staffing, infrastructure and IT systems are in place.
“Some answers will lie with the future relationship negotiations with the EU, and the work of the Joint Committee, but many aspects can be comprehensively addressed by the UK Government now. As things stand, there is a real risk of chaos for Northern Ireland at the beginning of January on top of the continued economic impact for the COVID-19 pandemic.”