Northern Ireland firms will have to complete export forms when sending goods to Britain, Stephen Barclay admits

Posted On: 
21st October 2019

Firms in Northern Ireland will have to fill out export declaration forms when sending goods to Great Britain under Boris Johnson's Brexit deal, Stephen Barclay has confirmed.

Stephen Barclay made the admission while giving evidence to peers.
PA Images

The Brexit Secretary was forced to make the admission after initially denying it was the case.

Giving evidence to the House of Lords European Union committee, Mr Barclay had said he did not believe exit forms would be necessary for trade between Northern Ireland and the British mainland.

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But he later conceded: "The exit summary declarations will be required in terms of NI to GB."

The minister's admission came after questions from Labour peer Lord Wood, who later tweeted: "This revelation confirms two things. 1) The GB-NI border inside the UK will, from a commercial point of view, feel like a real border. The Govt is trying to push through a vote on the deal before the text of the Withdrawal Bill is seen for a reason: the contents are alarming."

Under Mr Johnson's proposals, Northern Ireland would be part of the UK's customs territory, while also following the EU's customs rules as a way of avoiding checks on the border with Ireland.

However, the Government has been reluctant to admit that it would effectively mean a border in the Irish Sea - something Mr Johnson has previously ruled out.

Mr Barclay's comments were leapt upon by Sammy Wilson of the DUP, which has said it cannot support the PM's Brexit deal.

He tweeted: "Clear breach of UK Government commitment in Joint Report of 2017 to allow unfettered access to GB market for NI businesses. How can any Conservative & Unionist MP argue this does not represent a border in the Irish Sea?!"

Labour MP Ian Murray, of the People's Vote campaign, said: "This is a shocking admission by the Brexit Secretary. He has revealed that Boris Johnson’s Brexit proposals will mean a hard customs border in the Irish Sea, with Northern Ireland firms required to fill in export declaration forms when selling into Great Britain. This proves beyond all doubt that no-one can trust a single word Boris Johnson says.

"Boris Johnson went to the DUP conference last year and promised them that no British Conservative Prime Minister would ever sign up to a border down the Irish Sea. But that’s exactly what his Brexit proposals would mean.

"This would mean extra costs and bureaucracy for businesses in Northern Ireland, which will cost jobs. The DUP are just the latest people to learn that Boris Johnson’s relationship with the truth is extremely flexible, to say the least."