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been "played up" and he described the deal as a shibboleth, a Hebrew term used to describe a long-held custom that is outdated.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

Varadkar warns risk of return to violence ‘very real’ if hard border emerges

Leo Varadkar: Cut Brexit deal now or risk economic damage

DUP: Extended transition period would not solve key EU backstop problem

May insists Brexit deal can be done after summit ends without breakthrough

More in this Section

Pat Breen 'never' discussed broadband plan with David McCourt and Denis Naughten

Dashcam led to arrests in ‘sickening’ attempted taxi robbery

Man scaled up apartment block after row with girlfriend, court hears

National Transport Authority wants flat fare across all commuter services


Breaking Stories

David Beckham admits marriage is ‘hard work’: Is it normal for long-term relationships to be tough?

On World Menopause Day: 5 myths you really need to stop believing

Photography awards capture life at its wildest

This is how to stay healthy as a new parent – according to The Body Coach

More From The Irish Examiner