Northern Ireland Secretary Julian Smith struggled to defend the Government’s policy of introducing customs checks and red tape for businesses shipping goods from Northern Ireland to Great Britain at this morning’s session of the Commons Northern Ireland Committee.
Commenting, Ian Murray MP, leading supporter of the People’s Vote campaign, said:
“Julian Smith’s troubles at this morning’s Northern Ireland committee reflect the Government’s failure to be honest about what their wretched Brexit plan will mean for every part of the UK and for Northern Ireland in particular.
“Smith is struggling to justify a policy he understands and knows will be bad for Northern Ireland. But yesterday’s performance by Boris Johnson suggests he simply does not grasp how awful his Brexit plan will be for business in Northern Ireland.
“Boris Johnson, Julian Smith and other members of the Cabinet have also failed to be honest about the consent mechanism in Johnson’s Brexit plans. They claim that if they managed to secure a future trade deal with the EU then the Northern Ireland protocol would lapse. They must know that is false. The Northern Ireland protocol is a permanent measure and will only lapse if a majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly vote for that to happen.
“As the protocol effectively introduces joint sovereignty, via the EU, between the Republic of Ireland and the UK in Northern Ireland, there is no conceivable basis on which Sinn Féin and the SDLP will vote its removal. And as the protocol is a guarantee against Johnson’s moves to deregulate and destroy European protection for workers, the environment and consumers, it is almost as impossible to imagine Alliance and the Greens voting to scrap it. That means there is a majority to keep the protocol and that majority is unlikely to disappear in any future election.
“In other words, Boris Johnson’s Brexit represents a permanent diminution of UK sovereignty in Northern Ireland. That is why Sinn Féin are so enthusiastic about it, why the DUP are so hostile to it, and why every Conservative who claims to be a Unionist who is supporting it is engaged in self-delusion.”