David Frost, who served as Chief Negotiator for Exiting the European Union, acknowledges how difficult it is for small British companies to trade with Northern Ireland, ‘They decide it’s just not worth it’.
He also admitted he hadn’t expected a “chilling effect” of the new regulation, which massively affected small companies by increasing the trade cost.
Mr. Frost declared there are “companies in Great Britain who decide that it’s all too much trouble, reasonably enough – can’t be bothered to engage with the process (…) They are often SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and micro-businesses. Dealing with this is a significant call on their time and they decide it’s just not worth it,” he told a parliamentary inquiry. (…)That’s why you are seeing some of the trade diversion and supply-chain issues to Northern Ireland.”
Also, Mr. Frost’s declarations were followed by a new “approach” on the Northern Ireland protocol, causing tensions with the EU.
According to the government, the three-month agreement regarding the sale of chilled meats and the availability of medicines has not succeeded to ameliorate the protocol’s effects.
Brussels has been accused of “intransigence” and “lack of understanding of the sensitivities in Northern Ireland”.During a meeting with a Lords committee, David Frost hasn’t given too many details about his new approach, only explaining that the new achievement is to make goods “flow as freely as possible between Great Britain and Northern Ireland”.
The Brexit negotiator also:* Declared that increased cross-border trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is “a problem” he doesn’t agree with.* Revealed he expected £500m to be spent on trader support services, saying: “That is the cost of the protocol.”* Rejected the EU’s insistence that there is no alternative to the protocol, pointing to a future consent vote at Stormont, and asking: “Then what is that vote about?”* Argued it would be “inconceivable” to press ahead with protocol-style arrangements after a no vote, warning: “The politics would be quite significant at that point.”
The comments were made while the fishing industry accused Tory MPs who highlighted the potential gains from Brexit of going “very quiet” as those benefits failed to materialize.
The National Federation of Fisherman’s Organisations protested that nothing was now heard from even the “most vociferous supporters” on the Conservative benches.
Peter Hain, the Labour former Northern Ireland secretary, declared that David Frost had lost the sympathy of unionists, nationalists, the EU, and the Dublin government, saying: “That’s a pretty successful negotiation, isn’t it?”
While the EU accuses the UK of not respecting the protocol – by introducing checks at Northern Irish ports and by supplying data on cross-sea trade- London blames an over-zealous implementation.
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