SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood has said that the British Government’s future border plans represent unnecessary and politically motivated barriers to trade that will damage the North of Ireland’s economy.
The Foyle MP said that the rush to abandon EU rules will have direct and severe implications for trade from Britain.
Said Mr Eastwood: “We’ve come a long way from the promise of ‘frictionless trade’ and ‘borders of the future’. Michael Gove and his government still don’t get it.
“And it’s becoming increasingly clear that they just don’t care.
“Their rush to reject alignment with EU rules isn’t based on creating new opportunities or doing what’s best for business here, it is an entirely political decision rooted in the Europhobia that has gripped the British Government.
“The effect of insisting on trade barriers with the EU is that businesses here that rely on GB market supply for component parts or for access to freight, for example, will face new financial, logistics and supply burdens.
“We know that the impact of new burdens on SMEs will be significant.
“The British Government understands the impact this will have on our economy. They have been engaged with the North’s trade and industry experts.
“Their disregard for the experience and advice they’ve received is astonishing.
“Our economy cannot be collateral damage. The British Government needs to be prepared to offer specific derogations from these new rules for local business.
“And if they close their minds to specific solutions, they need to mitigate impact and compensate those who lose out.
“This phase of the Brexit negotiations is critical to defending jobs and the economic interests of this island. The British Government will not get an easy ride,” added the Foyle MP.