Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said comments by members of a Brexit panel run by the Policy Exchange think-tank at the Tory party conference lays bare the motives of the British government on the protocol.
The party’s economy spokesperson said:
“What we heard at this panel yesterday was a disgraceful display of backward-looking Brexit ideology taking precedence over the economic success of the north of Ireland.
“David Frost, who negotiated the Protocol on behalf of the Tory government, described growing all-Ireland trade as a ‘problem’ to be ‘solved’.
“At the time the trade and cooperation agreement was agreed, it was described by one business representative as the first trade deal in history that created barriers to trade rather than removing them.
“The Protocol was put in place to mitigate against the worst impacts of a hard Brexit on Ireland, to prevent a hard border on the island and to protect north-south cooperation.
“It is beyond belief that yesterday’s panellists would see growth in all-island trade, that is a direct result of the post Brexit trading arrangements negotiated and agreed by the Tories, as a threat to the union that needs to be minimised.
“The commentary of the panellists betrays the motives of the British government on the protocol, it is a threat to its narrative because it exposes Brexit for the failure it is.
“At a time when there are empty shelves, fuel and labour shortages across Britain, the north has been insulated by many of these difficulties by the Protocol.
“The recent growth in north-south trade means businesses are successfully adapting to changes in trading realities, they should be supported in doing this.”