Business groups and UFU silent on prospect of an Irish Sea border

News Letter editorial
News Letter editorial

The main business groups in Northern Ireland and the main voice for farmers in the Province have all come out in support of the government’s proposed Brexit deal.

This is a boost for the government, which can say it has key backing here, a boost for the Irish government, and specifically a boost for the Stormont wreckers, Sinn Fein, who want to gloat that the DUP is isolated in its (entirely appropriate) opposition to this abysmal deal.

It is a troubling moment in the economic history of Northern Ireland that business leaders are backing a full regulatory border in the Irish Sea, on standards of goods, that will involve significant checks on internal UK movements. Products here will always have to stay in step with EU standards, without us having a say on those standards.

But even worse, there is a strong possibility that Great Britain will in future leave a customs union with the EU. If so, it is unlikely Northern Ireland will be able to follow suit, so there will be a customs border in the Irish Sea too.

London, to placate Dublin and republicans, has prioritised north-south trade over much more valuable east-west trade. It has far reaching constitutional implications which might ultimately end NI’s place in the UK or even if not, mean we are not in the unfettered internal market.

It is alarming that no-one in the CBI NI, FSB NI, IoD NI and NI Chamber of Commerce or UFU seems to have, or to be prepared to express, any concerns about this prospect.