The UK government has confirmed plans to enhance border checks at ports in Northern Ireland and intends to release detail with the executive outlining ‘physical posts at ports of entry’ as soon as possible.
Whilst the rest of the UK will stop following EU rules on agricultural and manufactured goods at the end of this year, Northern Ireland will continue to align itself with EU single market regulations.
A cabinet office spokesman told the BBC that: “We want to work with NI businesses and the executive to ensure new admin procedures are streamlined and efficient.
“The protocol puts legal obligations on both sides. We are committed to complying with ours, just as we expect the EU to comply with theirs.”
He said that the government had made clear the checks requirement for live animals and agri-food – similar to what’s already in place at ports including Belfast and Larne – especially due to how strict the EU’s rules on the entry of animals and food products into the single market.
So, whilst these border checks would always have been in the pipeline and a requirement of the Brexit outcome, this looks to be the first time the government has confirmed this will indeed happen.
Despite telling business leaders in November that there would be no buffers between GB and NI trade, and even saying that he would personally throw any suggested additional customs forms in the bin, the confirmation of enhanced border checks sits in contrast to Boris Johnson’s earlier Brexit rhetoric.
Brexit spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, Alistair Carmichael even commented that: “It now seems Johnson was deeply dishonest with businesses when he previously asserted there would be no checks and businesses could put paperwork ‘in the bin’.”
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However, minister Declan Kearney says that checks are required in order to ‘implement the protocol for 1st January’ and in a bid to avoid disruption to trade.
“Delivery on that infrastructure needs to start as soon as possible, and the British government has indicated that it will provide advice on the requirements and the funding to put that in place.”