Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today called on the government to ensure that businesses have clear guidance on trading terms after the UK leaves the transition period. Speaking in Parliament, Mr Carmichael highlighted the lack of information for businesses on a future trade deal and the specific challenges for Northern Ireland, which will remain in the EU customs territory.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“I’m sure that all in business will welcome the announcement from the Secretary of State that there will be guidance given to all those trading in Northern Ireland by the 1st of November but can he explain to the House how you can formulate guidance on a deal that has not yet been done, or will that guidance be written on the presumption that there will be no deal?”
Responding, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Brandon Lewis said:
“As we have done with the guidance that we outlined just before the summer recess we’ve done that in conjunction with businesses and partners across Northern Ireland through the Business Engagement Forum that we put together. We are consulting with businesses about what they need to deliver on the Protocol and that Protocol explains what will be in place next year.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“Referring back to the Northern Ireland Protocol is an unhelpful distraction. Businesses in Northern Ireland and across the UK need to know about the actual trading terms they can face in 2021 and beyond. The government is treating trade deal negotiation like last-minute exam revision – and businesses will suffer for a lack of clarity and confidence.”