Orkney and Shetland MP, Alistair Carmichael, has today challenged the Chancellor on claims that the Government’s new trading relationship with the EU would be better for businesses, citing isles seafood exporters who have already lost significant sums due to trade disruption and red tape caused by new trade barriers.
Speaking remotely in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Chancellor’s assertion that the Prime Minister’s trade deal means that businesses can now start to do things differently and better will have been heard with total incredulity by anyone whose business involves the export of seafood. The new procedures for export are a bureaucratic mess that has brought export trade to a grinding halt. One local fish trader told me this morning that a single consignment now has to go with no fewer than 17 attachments and another told me on Friday that he had lost £50,000 on a single consignment that he had been unable to export.
“What is the Chancellor going to do to offer help to fish exporters during this difficult time - difficult because of DEFRA’s own rules and procedures?”
Responding for the Government, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak MP said:
“What this deal provides is that all those businesses have tariff-free access to European markets otherwise there would have been significant tariffs on those exports. He is right, there are changes to our trading relationship, that has always been the case and both the Prime Minister and the Government have been clear about that.
“I know the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster is working though individual issues as we look over time to improve processes, and he will also know that we have invested a huge amount of resource in both the IT systems at DEFRA but also in providing support for those businesses to fill out various forms and meet new procedures.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“The Chancellor clearly has no idea how difficult these new procedures are for local businesses. In fairness the fault for that lies mostly with the Prime Minister who rushed the deal at the last minute without heeding the consequences. Seafood exporters may not face tariffs in trading with the EU but they are tied up in yards of Brexit red tape thanks to this Government. If the Chancellor has any interest in mitigating this harm then he needs to push for action with his DEFRA colleagues.”