Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of “misrepresenting” his Brexit deal by continuing to insist that there will be no border in the Irish Sea.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has produced what he described as a leaked confidential report produced by the current Government which “categorically shows the impact Johnson’s damaging Brexit deal will have on large parts of our country”.
Specifically, he went on, the report confirms that there will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, despite Mr Johnson having repeatedly said that this will not happen.
For trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, the report makes clear, the Government cannot rule out regulatory checks, rules of origin checks and animal and public health checks.
Furthermore, for trade going from Great Britain to Northern Ireland there will be all of the above plus, potentially, “damaging tariffs”.
The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), which withdrew its support for the Conservative Government in protest at the agreement, said it had warned Mr Johnson that it would be bad for Northern Ireland and this was “further evidence”.
The 15-page Treasury document — titled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access to the UK Internal Market — concludes that the Mr Johnson’s deal would see “Northern Ireland symbolically separated from the Union”.
The Prime Minister has repeatedly described the deal as “oven-ready” and promised that, if he is returned to power with a majority, he will ensure it passes through Parliament so that the UK can leave the EU by the end of January 2020.
EU Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan said that, under Mr Johnson's Brexit deal, Northern Ireland would remain in the UK customs territory and, at the same time, benefit from access to the single market without tariffs, quotas, checks or controls.
“EU state aid and VAT rules will continue to apply in Northern Ireland, under the control of the European Court of Justice," he added.
This, as Mr Corbyn has been quick to point out is not what the Prime Minister has been saying: at the beginning of the general election campaign, for example, he told worried exporters in Northern Ireland that they would not have to fill in customs declarations when they send goods across the Irish Sea.
Last reviewed 9 December 2019