Bid to ensure unfettered trade across the Irish Sea post-Brexit

Bid to ensure unfettered trade across the Irish Sea post-Brexit
Peter Hain

Ministers in the UK have been urged to adopt “essential damage limitation measures” aimed at ensuring unfettered trade across the Irish Sea post-Brexit.

Putting forward the proposals at Westminster, former Northern Ireland secretary Peter Hain pointed out they had all-party support in the province, including the DUP and Sinn Féin.

The British Government accepting the changes to Brexit legislation would be “one of the best confidence building measures” for the recently-signed landmark deal that restored powersharing at Stormont, said Mr Hain.

His comments came as the House of Lords carried out line-by-line scrutiny of the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, which will enable the UK to leave the EU on January 31.

Despite assurances by Boris Johnson, there are concerns the divorce deal secured by the Prime Minister will lead to new checks on trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK after Brexit.

Urging support for the amendments, Mr Hain said: “After all, they achieve what the Government itself professes to support. Namely, no impediments to trade across the Irish Sea.

“The purpose of these amendments is to protect the Northern Ireland economy from the clear and inevitable damage that leaving the European Union in the hard Brexit way, seemingly envisaged by the Government will otherwise cause.

They are not delaying amendments. They are not wrecking amendments.

“They are not the last frantic efforts of deluded Remainers or Remoaners to thwart the democratic process.

“They are essential damage limitation measures supported by all the political parties in Northern Ireland.”

He added: “If the Government is not to repeat the mistakes of the last 10 years in Northern Ireland it must not only hear, it must also listen, and not just when crises threaten to engulf the political process.

“And if what is buried are legitimate hopes and aspirations, whether they are unionist or nationalist, then that can and will have severely adverse consequences both economic and political."

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