Windsor Framework: Logistics UK refuses to share details of opinion poll about attitudes towards post Brexit trade deal

​One of the UK's major business lobby groups is refusing to share details of an opinion poll about attitudes towards the Windsor Framework.
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Logistics UK has divulged only snippets of the survey results to the News Letter – one of which suggests that well over half of Great Britain shipping businesses do not intend to re-establish a trading relationship with Northern Ireland.

It has also declined to address particular points raised by two figures in the Northern Irish haulage industry concerning the red tape which will persist even under the revised protocol arrangements of the Windsor Framework.

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The story begins on March 31, when the News Letter contacted Logistics UK seeking a response to comments from two haulage businessmen: Peter Summerton of refrigerated freight firm McCulla, and Paul Jackson of transport consultancy Palyn. The pair had starkly criticised the proposed arrangements at Northern Irish ports under the Windsor Framework, unveiled with much fanfare a month before by Rishi Sunak as a tonic to the existing border checks of the Protocol.

Logistics UK, where Nicola Mallon is head of Trade and Devolved Policy, claimed “strong support” for the revised protocol but won’t give detailsLogistics UK, where Nicola Mallon is head of Trade and Devolved Policy, claimed “strong support” for the revised protocol but won’t give details
Logistics UK, where Nicola Mallon is head of Trade and Devolved Policy, claimed “strong support” for the revised protocol but won’t give details

When the framework was unveiled, the former SDLP MLA and Stormont minister Nicola Mallon, who is now head of Trade and Devolved Policy at Logistics UK, issued a statement saying the group had been “at the forefront of discussions surrounding the NI Protocol” and welcoming the fact that UK-EU agreement had been reached.

But Mr Jackson and Mr Summerton argued that – as the former put it – “the Windsor Framework simply does not remove the Irish Sea trade border, it reinforces it”.

Their comments contrasted with the “strong support” for the deal which Logistics UK said existed among haulage firms.

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In response, Logistics NI said: “Following the Windsor Framework announcement, Logistics UK and its member businesses remain cautiously optimistic regarding the opportunities it could provide. Logistics UK has since surveyed around 100 member businesses, with 79% of those welcoming the certainty the new trading agreement will bring for their businesses.

"While there is still much to be confirmed regarding the simplicity and stability of ongoing trade opportunities between NI and GB, 40% of businesses surveyed in GB confirmed their intention to re-establish trading links with NI.”

However, the News Letter queried this last figure, saying that – if anything – it undermines Logistics UK's own case, because it suggests that the remaining 60% of firms surveyed do not intend to “re-establish trading links with NI”.

Logistics UK was asked “what percent have specifically said that they won't re-establish links?”

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“That wasn’t a question we asked, so I’m afraid we can’t comment,” was the response.

So can the News Letter see the actual survey data? “Sorry, Adam, but no. The data we have released is all we are prepared to share,” said Logistics UK.

On what basis is Logistics UK not sharing the full survey results (and its methodology)? It was put to Logistics NI that it is unusual to withhold this.

“We have provided you with the information our members are happy with sharing in the public domain,” was Logistics UK's reply.

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In his piece for the News Letter at the end of March about how the Windsor Framework will actually function, transport consultant Mr Jackson said: “Now all EU customs formalities and health certification will have to completed before entering NI, whereas some of it was done after entry under the protocol (supplementary declaration).

“This will all help to cause an irreversible fracture to trade… Goods which are not destined to go directly to an end consumer in Northern Ireland, such as wholesale supplies of timber or roof tiles for a building merchant, will be ‘red laned’ at Northern Irish ports and treated as if they are destined for the European Union, with full EU duties and tariffs having to be fulfilled before they enter the Province.”

Mr Summerton, meanwhile, had said “even in the badly named ‘green lane’ 100% of electronic documentary checks will remain and there will be identity and physical checks on goods”.