Post-Brexit support service welcomed in Stormont amid calls for further clarity

Rebecca Black, Press Association

August 07, 2020 3:32 PM

Northern political parties have welcomed the plan for a system to facilitate the move of goods from the UK after Brexit, but warned that questions remain.

The Duchy of Lancaster Chancellor Michael Gove visited a carpet factory in Co Armagh today to help companies deal with paperwork involved in moving goods after the UK left the EU.

The new Trader Support Service aims to address concerns from businesses that red tape could disrupt the flow of goods from the UK.

CONTINUE READING: Brexit: £ 355 million for NI companies shipping goods out of the UK

Previously, Mr. Gove met with parties and business leaders at Hillsborough Castle.

First Minister Arlene Foster described the meetings as constructive but said that "many points" still need clarification.

"We have welcomed the additional money that has been made available to facilitate trade between the UK and NI as a result of the protocol," said the DUP chair.

"However, there are many points that still need clarity in order for business decisions to be made. Indeed, the EU also has a responsibility to show flexibility to address remaining concerns and provide reassurance."

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard also welcomed the support but urged the UK government on "many important questions that remain unanswered".

"The announcement of this £ 200 million support package is welcome news for local businesses who are increasingly concerned about the trading environment in the aftermath of the January 2021 transition," he said.

"It is clear, however, that given the UK government's inability to deliver on its promise of 'full access' and 'no extra burden', it has no choice but to pull a magical money rabbit out of its hat to try. " distract from the fact that their Brexit mishap has created a mountain of red tape and bureaucratic processes.

"Today's announcement is not the long overdue model for border operations that we were promised, but just another attempt to create an IT system that takes on the complex formalities involved in automating the customs process."

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Michael Gove

Ulster Unionist Party's MLA John Stewart criticized today's announcement as "a stark contrast to previous claims by the Prime Minister that Northern Irish companies could toss customs declarations".

"Regardless of how the government is trying to spin it, the reality is that it has allowed a regulatory boundary to be put in place in the middle of the Irish Sea and is now working to reverse the damage it has caused," he said.

"We are only a few months from the end of the transition and there are still unanswered questions about how the Northern Irish economy will be protected from the worst effects of misguided decisions."

Meanwhile, SDLP-MLA Matthew O & # 39; Toole said funding for the new trade promotion program "is well below what is needed".

He repeated his party's call for an extension of the transition period.

"The UK government has also failed to provide more detailed information on how to ensure full access to the UK market for NI companies or which goods are eligible for full access," he said.

"And ultimately, all of this disruption is the result of an ideological refusal to extend the transition period amid the greatest public health crisis in a century.

"The best way to minimize the damage Brexit will inevitably cause is to extend the transition and avoid a crash later this year."

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