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Raab claims Brexit plan is ‘cracking deal for Northern Ireland businesses’

Good morning. I’m Andrew Sparrow, taking over from Ben Quinn.

The foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, got the 8.10am slot on the Today programme this morning, and he was asked about how Boris Johnson can defend his new Brexit plan, which would in practice put a customs border down the Irish Sea, when, in a speech to the DUP conference last year, he said no Conservative government could sign up to a plan that would impose customs controls between Britain and Northern Ireland.

For the record, here is the Johnson quote in full.

If we wanted to do free trade deals, if we wanted to cut tariffs … if we wanted to vary our regulation then we would have to leave Northern Ireland behind as an economic semi-colony of the EU and we would be damaging the fabric of the union with regulatory checks and even customs controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland – on top of those extra regulatory checks down the Irish Sea that are already envisaged in the withdrawal agreement.

Now I have to tell you, no British Conservative government could or should sign up to any such arrangement.

Asked if the government was signing up to an arrangement of the kind that Johnson said would be unacceptable, Raab replied: “No.” He went on:

Under the new arrangements, the only tariff that could conceivably be levied in relation to goods in Northern Ireland would be in relation to those that come from GB where the idea is to circumvent the rules of the single market and the ultimate destination is mainland Europe. Even then the UK has a double safeguard of waiver or reimbursement. That is not something that was there before.

In terms of the regulatory side of customs, the paperwork of customs, there will be none from Northern Ireland to Britain. Great Britain to Northern Ireland already has regulatory declarations, there is already a regulatory border but not a customs border. So there will be an incremental additional section that would have to be filled out on the form. But that is not a substantial extra burden for business.

And, overall, what Northern Ireland businesses get is remaining part of the UK customs territory, no infrastructure at the border with the Republic and frictionless access to the single market. It is a cracking deal for Northern Ireland businesses.



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Sorgente: Brexit deal: Boris Johnson launches frantic sales pitch ahead of knife-edge vote on Saturday – live news | Politics | The Guardian

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