The NFU’s initial response to the government’s latest proposals to replace the Irish/ Northern Irish ‘backstop’ includes the observation that it’s getting ‘very late in the day’ to achieve a breakthrough.
Commenting this morning, the union said: “We have argued strongly that we cannot leave the EU without a deal if we are to avoid significant damage to UK farming. While we welcome the fact that the government is continuing to pursue a deal with the EU that would secure an orderly Brexit, it is getting very late in the day and it of course remains to be seen whether the latest proposals will lead to a much needed breakthrough in negotiations.
“We will now look closely at the proposals themselves, and of course at the EU’s response and any counter-proposals. It is important that they strike the right balance between maintaining as free and frictionless trade as possible with the EU while respecting the Good Friday Agreement, and protecting the integrity and smooth functioning of the UK’s internal market.”
The farming view from the Republic of Ireland, albeit issued before the official release of yesterday’s new Brexit plan, included the comment that it was like trying to put ‘lipstick on a pig’.
Irish Farmers Association President, Joe Healy, said that the proposal by the UK to install ‘Custom Clearance Centres’ at both sides of the border was not a credible alternative to the Backstop, adding that the ‘Customs Clearance Centres’ are Border Posts under a different name.
“The purpose of the Backstop is to act as a fallback in the event that a future trade deal cannot address the NI Border issue to the UK and EU’s satisfaction,” he said. “This latest proposal is an attempt to put lipstick on a pig. A customs post is a customs post, no matter what is called or where it’s located.
“The Irish Government should reject this CCC proposal and stick with the backstop which, after all, was agreed by the EU and the UK Government in the Joint Report of December 2017, when Boris Johnston was Foreign Secretary.”