Liberal Democrat Northern Ireland spokesperson, Alistair Carmichael MP, has today called for the Government to take the long term impact of trading changes seriously and find mitigations for disruption urgently. Speaking during an urgent debate in Parliament, Mr Carmichael also highlighted a spate of attacks on constituency offices in Northern Ireland overnight.
Speaking in the House virtually, Mr Carmichael said:
“Can I invite the Chancellor of the Duchy to join me in condemning those who were responsible for the attacks yesterday on Alliance Party offices in Northern Ireland? There is no place in our politics in any part of the United Kingdom for that sort of intimidation.
“But do these attacks really not just illustrate the importance of using the time that is available to us in the grace period to get things right so that we don’t see what his colleagues elsewhere in government have called ‘teething problems’ come the end of that grace period? So much of this paperwork now can be done digitally. Is the government going ahead in that direction?
Responding for the Government, Michael Gove MP said:
“He’s absolutely right, the threats that have been issued to the Alliance Party and other political and community leaders in Northern Ireland are totally unacceptable and we do need to stand together against that sort of behaviour. He’s also right that we do need to help business to use the online and digital facilities that the Trader Support Service provide in order to make sure that there can be as trouble free commerce as possible across the whole United Kingdom.”
Reacting after the exchange, Mr Carmichael said:
“Mr Gove is the first minister who has accepted what everyone else has known for some time – that the problems in trade since the start of the year are not just “teething problems” but structural harm to our economy from the Prime Minister’s trade deal. Now we need action. The sooner the rest of the Government accepts reality the sooner they can start to mitigate the damage that they have caused.”