A cross-party report, agreed unanimously by Parliament’s Committee on the Future Relationship with the European Union, has warned the Government that it must prepare for the possibility of no agreement with the EU being reached. This should include what support it intends to give to sectors that would be particularly affected, eg, by the introduction of tariffs on certain products.

The Government should also set out the preparations it believes are needed whether or not an agreement is reached and publish an assessment in the Autumn of both how far advanced these preparations are and of the likelihood that they will be completed in time.

Committee chairman Hilary Benn said: “With the global economy facing an unprecedented economic shock as a result of COVID-19 and just over four months left in effect to reach an agreement, both sides must show a willingness to compromise on the areas currently in dispute.” The need for progress in the negotiations can be found at https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm5801/cmselect/cmexeu/458/45802.htm.

It sets out the Committee’s views on the progress made in the negotiation of a future relationship with the European Union, following the 15 June high-level meeting between the Prime Minister and EU leaders (see UK and EU confirm their intention to press on for a trade deal).

The report highlights that both sides have a responsibility to the people of Northern Ireland to ensure that the Protocol agreed last October works in practice.

While the UK’s recent command paper represents a positive start (see Implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol), the Committee argues that more detail is needed soon if businesses are to make the necessary preparations. It warns the Government that it must consider the needs of UK exporters, who are set to face full controls from 1 January with additional documentation and costs. Goods exporters, as well as the hospitality, broadcasting and financial services sectors, are among those who will also require particular attention, it points out.

Last reviewed 25 June 2020