Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael, has challenged the Government on business readiness for the UK’s departure from the Single Market. Speaking in Parliament Mr Carmichael highlighted the concerns of farmers and business organisations about the impact of new trade barriers, particularly in Northern Ireland, and said ministers must be held to account on preparations.
Speaking in the House, Mr Carmichael said:
“Essentially, he is telling us that those farmers, business organisations and everybody else who say that they are not ready for this move are wrong and that he is right. If, come January, it turns out that they are right and he is wrong, will he resign?”
Responding for the Government, Robin Walker MP said:
“We all ought to focus on delivering what the protocol promised in the first place to the people of Northern Ireland and, accepting its unique circumstances, on delivering the flow of goods north, south, east and west, and protecting and respecting its place in the UK internal market. That is what businesses want, and that is what I want.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“Rumours suggest that despite the Prime Minister’s tantrum last month we may in fact reach some kind of a trade deal with the EU. Even so the deal we finally get is likely to be so thin as to be almost as disruptive for people and businesses as no deal would be and so the concerns will only become more acute as we approach the end of the year.
“Northern Ireland will be at the sharp end of this disruption but it will affect every part of our country and particularly those who rely on smooth imports and exports to keep their livelihoods running. I will be pursuing further discussions with ministers to ensure that the impact on small businesses is minimised whatever the outcome.”