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Peers “deeply concerned” by implications of key parts of Internal Market Bill

17 September 2020

Peers “deeply concerned” at the potential impact of post-Brexit internal market proposals on trust in UK-EU negotiations and Britain’s reputation abroad have accused a minister of “a lack of openness”.

The House of Lords EU Environment Sub-Committee is examining what the Northern Ireland Protocol will mean for agri-food trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

The committee says that Environment Secretary George Eustice has failed to answer its questions directly or acknowledge that several organisations in Northern Ireland see a UK-EU free trade agreement as an important part of the best-case scenario under the Protocol. 

More checks and controls would be required on goods moving from the rest of the UK to Northern Ireland in the absence of a UK-EU agreement.  

The Secretary of State did not respond directly to Peers’ questions about a range of issues including whether the Government’s unfettered access commitment will take into account all-Ireland supply chains, and failed to acknowledge the “challenging timetable” to implement the Protocol.

The committee is concerned too that the Government’s Internal Market Bill paves the way for “unilateral” implementation of the Government’s position despite EU customs rules that apply under the Protocol. 

Now the committee has written to the Environment Secretary again about its concerns and to seek more answers.

Lord Teverson, Chair of the EU Environment Sub-Committee, said:

“The Government must consider the likely impacts on Northern Ireland businesses and consumers of the increased levels of checks and controls that will be required if UK-EU future relationship negotiations are unsuccessful.

“The Government’s internal market proposals have implications for trust and the UK’s reputation for abiding by its international agreements.

“We urge the Government to reconsider its proposals and to engage with the EU constructively.”