The DUP’s Brexit spokesperson has accused Sinn Fein MEP Martina Anderson of “whinging” about government warnings over the possible need for international driving permits in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Responding to comments by Ms Anderson criticising the UK government and the “disastrous impact” the need for international driving permits would have on Northern Ireland, Mr Wilson said the “precautionary measure” being taken regarding driving licences post-March 2019 was a “perfectly sensible” step to take.
“Following the publication of the latest tranche of scenarios for a no-deal Brexit, it has emerged that drivers in the north will no longer be able to drive across the border without an international driving permit,” the Sinn Fein MEP said.
“This shows the ludicrousness of the Tory Brexit agenda and also how little knowledge, appreciation or care they have for people in areas like Derry, which is essentially a cross-border city, and the many thousands across the north who drive across the border every day to work or study.
“It also begs the question of how this will be enforced and raises legitimate concerns over lengthy border delays if permits are to be checked.”
But responding to Ms Anderson’s comments, Mr Wilson said the government’s action was “a perfectly sensible measure”.
He said: “The government has made it quite clear that, as part of its preparation for a no-deal Brexit – if that’s what happens – to ensure that driving licences issued in the UK can be used outside the UK, it has applied for UK driving licences to be treated as international driving licenses as well.
“It’s a sensible measure as a lot of people drive lorries and vans outside of the UK on their UK driving licence.
“People will drive when they are on their holidays as well, so I would have thought it was something she’d have been congratulating the government on, in making sure when we leave the EU there is a seamless transition for people who want to drive outside the UK.”
Accusing the Sinn Fein MEP of “whinging”, Mr Wilson continued: “This is only in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“And even in the event of a no-deal Brexit, it’s not to say there will be nothing done.
“So even as part of a no-deal arrangement the EU could indicate that it is prepared to recognise UK driving licences and the UK could say it is prepared to recognise EU driving licences. It is a precautionary measure and I think the government should be commended.”
International driving permits currently cost £5.50 and are available at some post offices.