Farms straddling Irish border 'could get tax-free status'

Farms and small businesses that straddle the Irish border could be given tax-free status, the UK's Brexit Secretary has said.

David Davis said "quite large exemptions" could be granted to businesses that are not given authorised economic operator status - "trusted traders" - to enable trade to continue between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Mr Davis also said the British Parliament is "unlikely" to sign off the withdrawal deal unless it is a "substantive" agreement.

"The withdrawal agreement involves payments of up to £39 billion. It's a lot of money and Parliament is unlikely to sign off such a deal unless we can be pretty substantive what's going to be there in the long run," he said.

In an interview with Gerard Baker, editor in chief of the Wall Street Journal, at WSJ CEO Council Europe in central London, Mr Davis was asked how he would avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

He replied: "There's a tax border between the North and South, there's an excise border, there's a currency border. There is, in effect, no personnel border because of the Common Travel Area. The Common Travel Area was created in 1923, it's been there all the time, it's not going to go.

"So what we're talking about is, number one, how we continue to maintain a tax border - bear in mind we're looking for a zero-tariff outcome - a tax border and an excise border and so on, much as we do now."

Mr Davis said one "area of difficulty" was "very small businesses" straddling the border, such as farms and "tiny" companies.

"That is going to have to be addressed, we think, in the first case by quite large exemptions, so in effect we will give them tax-free status."

He told the conference he did not agree with the UK's shadow international trade secretary Barry Gardiner that the border issue is a "shibboleth".

Mr Gardiner was heard in a recording suggesting the row over the border issue and the accord had been "played up" and he described the deal as a shibboleth, a Hebrew term used to describe a long-held custom that is outdated.

Mr Davis said he was "old enough, I'm sorry to say, to have lived through it all, so I remember the beginning of the Troubles".

"I do not agree with one Labour politician who said this is a shibboleth - he's wrong, this is a massive deal for all concerned."


Related Articles

50-50 chance of no-deal Brexit, Latvian minister warns

Calls to protect €5bn tourism industry ahead of Brexit

Mincon untroubled by tariffs and Brexit

Report shows how Ireland's drinks and hospitality sector is vulnerable to hard Brexit

More in this Section

Áras hopefuls call for presidency to be limited to one term

Homelessness campaigners call for meeting with minister; stage Customs House sit-in

Lucky escape after two adults and two children thrown from boat in Lough Derg

Celtic symbolism on papal vestment to be worn by Pope Francis at Phoenix Park mass revealed


Lifestyle

New father’s life ‘changed forever’ after he was run over by surgeon

More From The Irish Examiner