Michel Barnier insists Brexit deal will mean checks in Irish Sea despite Boris Johnson claims

Posted On: 
28th January 2020

The Brexit deal struck between the UK and EU will inevitably lead to customs checks in the Irish Sea, Michel Barnier has insisted.

Michel Barnier was the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.
PA Images

The EU's chief negotiator said checks were an "indispensable" part of the agreement, despite Boris Johnson's repeated claims to the contrary.

Under the terms of the deal signed up to by the Prime Minister following frantic last-ditch talks, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU rules on agricultural and manufactured goods while the rest of the UK will not.

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Meanwhile, the whole of the UK will leave the EU's customs union but Northern Ireland will continue to enforce the EU's customs code on goods entering it from Great Britain.

The deal led to the DUP ditching its support for the Prime Minister, claiming it led to Northern Ireland being treated differently to the rest of the UK.

Mr Johnson has insisted that trade between Britain and the province will remain "unfettered" and that no customs checks will be necessary.

But speaking at Queen's University in Belfast, Mr Barnier said: "In agreeing to the protocol, the UK has agreed to a system of reinforced checks and controls for goods entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

"I understand the fears of negative economic fallout expressed by some about these checks.

"But Brexit unfortunately has consequences that we must manage."

He added that the UK's decision's to quit the customs union and single market "makes checks indispensable".

Mr Barnier's comments came as the UK prepares to leave the EU at 11pm on Friday night.