Sinn Féin MLA and Junior Minister in the northern power sharing Executive Declan Kearney has said the newly published report by the NI Affairs Committee confirms his previously stated concerns about the British Government’s failure to provide either clarity or certainty to the business community in the north.
Reacting to publication of the new report, the South Antrim MLA said:
“It has been increasingly obvious that this British government is neither properly focussed upon, or concerned about, addressing the lack of detail required by local businesses to continue trading under the new procedures governing the EU and British Government Withdrawal Agreement.
“I am not surprised this British parliamentary affairs committee remains to be convinced the current British government fully understands its political approach provides neither the clarity nor the detail required by the business community in the north. This has been apparent for some time and is a damning indictment of the Tories’ Brexit agenda, and failure to deliver on the terms of the Irish Protocol.
“I have previously raised concerns about lack of preparation regarding implementation of the Protocol, and lack of proper engagement between British officials and local business leaders. I have repeatedly said in recent weeks that time is now running out.
“The refusal in June by the British to seek an extension of the transition period under the Withdrawal Agreement was absolutely wrongheaded. The stupidity of that decision brings into stark focus the lack of preparation on behalf of the Tory government. It is beyond belief that the Tories refuse to accept the economic repercussions of the Coronavirus health emergency have changed everything.
“That decision is further evidence the British government is preparing for a ‘no deal Brexit’. Such an outcome would be a catastrophe for our local businesses, and the regional and island economies.”
The South Antrim MLA criticised the lack of serious engagement by the British government serious in negotiations with the European Commission. He said:
“During the last Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee meeting the European Commission Vice President voiced concerns about deficiencies in the recent British government Command Paper. Those assertions have now been borne out by this parliamentary Affairs Committee report.
“The fact is this British government has indeed been gambling with the future of businesses, workers, and livelihoods of our wider community in the north. It must stop playing reckless ideological games with the economic and social future of people in this region.
“The time for messing about is long over. The British should start negotiating seriously with the European Community and engage properly with local business and trade union leaders in the north of Ireland.”