let’s call the whole thing off, part 2

Brexit deal includes two-way customs checks, insists Ireland
Rory Carroll, Groon, Dec 10 2019

Simon Coveney, Ireland’s foreign minister, has challenged Boris Johnson’s claim that under his Brexit deal there would be no checks or controls on goods moving between NI and GB. Coveney insisted that under the terms of the withdrawal agreement the prime minister negotiated with the EU there would be inspections on goods moving in both directions. He said in Brussels on Monday:

It was very clear when the deal was done. The EU has made it clear they want to minimise the impact on goods coming from GB to NI, but at the same time goods coming from GB to NI will need to have some checks to ensure that the EU knows what is potentially coming into their market through NI.

The comments contradicted Johnson’s claims, repeated last Sunday, that there would be no checks on goods moving from NI to GB. Coveney’s tacit rebuke followed sharper censure on Monday from DUP leader Arlene Foster, who accused the prime minister of misrepresenting the Brexit deal and breaking his word to NI. Speaking to RTE, the Irish foreign minister said negotiators on both sides spent a lot of time nailing down details to leave no ambiguity.

Goods going the other way from NI into GB will have far less requirement for checks at all. In fact, it will probably be limited to an export declaration, because of course that is a matter internally for the UK. So there was always a distinction between goods coming from GB into NI versus goods going from NI into GB, and we spent many hours discussing and negotiating that, and I think explaining it too.

Coveney added that clinching a trade deal with the UK by the end of 2020 was a “tall order.” Johnson, who was due on Wednesday to campaign in the Midlands and north-west England, has been accused of lying about the Brexit deal and the likelihood of securing a trade deal within a year. A document written by the government’s own Brexit Dept and leaked to the FT last week warned that Johnson’s stated goal of implementing his deal by the end of 2020 presented a major challenge because of the need to create new protocols and systems for business in NI. The document claimed that 98% of export businesses were “likely to struggle to bear the cost” of the extra paperwork, fuelling concerns of increased prices for consumers. The government dismissed a similar document leaked to the Labour party on Friday as instant analysis done when Johnson brought home his Brexit deal in October.

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