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Sat, 28 March 2020

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Stephen Barclay confirms there will be customs checks in Irish Sea despite PM’s denials

Stephen Barclay confirms there will be customs checks in Irish Sea despite PM’s denials
2 min read

Stephen Barclay has confirmed there would be checks on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under the new Brexit deal - despite Boris Johnson denying it.


The Brexit Secretary told MPs that “minimal, targeted interventions" would be needed to make sure imports and exports align with the new rules.

Under the PM's plan, Northern Ireland would remain in the UK's customs territory, but would also need to abide by the EU's rules in order to avoid checks at the border with Ireland.

Speaking at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Johnson said: "There will be no checks between Northern Ireland and GB, and there will be no tariffs between Northern Ireland and GB, because we have protected the customs union."

But Mr Barclay appeared to contradict him when answering an urgent question in the Commons.

"For goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland those destined for the European Union will have to comply with European Union rules,” he said.

“To ensure the correct tariffs have applied and that goods comply with the rules of the single regulatory zone, some information will be needed on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland...

“There will be minimal targeted interventions designed to prevent for example trade in endangered species

“We will work with the European Union to eliminate these limited processes as soon as possible after Brexit."

His remarks were pounced on by the DUP, who have said they cannot support the Prime Minister's new Brexit deal because of the need for checks in the Irish Sea.

Nigel Dodds, the party's deputy leader, said: “Let’s have a bit of clarity and honesty in this House. The fact of the matter is that this will adversely affect the most important trade that we have, that’s the point we’ve always made. 

"No checks along the Irish land border yes, but you can’t then have those checks in the Irish Sea."

DUP MP Gavin Robinson added: “It’s frustrating to put it mildly to hear that black is white, to hear contradictory comments that bear no reflection to the text.”

A Downing Street spokesman said "an administrative procedure which is carried out electronically is entirely consistent" with what the Prime Minister told MPs during PMQs.

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