Northern Ireland: Gareth Chambers on ‘benefit’ of Protocol
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Tory MP John Redwood reacted to BBC Radio 4 Today interview with Around Noon chief executive Gareth Chambers on Northern Ireland protocol and accused the programme of failing to present a balanced representation of Brexit. In the interview, Mr Chambers discouraged the Government from taking unilateral actions with Northern Ireland protocol as he claimed “we’ve benefited” from the agreement. Despite calling for some measures to simplify checks and ease goods movement, he stressed that the protocol has been “absolutely vital in maintaining the trade of goods”.
Tory MP John Redwood commented on Twitter: “BBC Radio 4 business did its usual job this morning presenting the EU case against Northern Ireland being part of the UK.
“No balance or understanding of the Unionist problem.”
The tweet came as Ms Chambers said on BBC Radio 4: “We’re calling for measures and changes to simplify these checks and ease the movement rather than unilateral changes, which could potentially set us back or take away from the grid position we find ourselves in currently.
“So if we can simplify the process and take a common-sense approach, surely some of this red tape can be removed and goods can flow freely.”
The BBC Radio 4 host pointed out: “The ability to switch off parts of the protocol effectively, which is what it seems we’re looking at, given certain clauses that may appear in the bill and in the amendments.
“What would that ability to override the protocol do for your business in your sector? You talk about setbacks, but how much are you talking here?”
He responded: “I mean, effectively, we’ve benefited in one sense.
“Companies who are struggling to get food across the Irish Sea have approached us and said ‘look, can you do a job for us here? Could you source locally?’
“And they’ve changed their policies.
“So we’ve actually picked up a sizeable about of business by sort of import substitution.
“We’ve been able to produce local food here in Northern Ireland for companies from England that are struggling with the protocol.
“So in one sense we’ve benefited, but we can absolutely see that if we were to cut down on some go that red tape and find a way to make goods move more freely, then everyone would benefit.
“And I think anything that can be a common-sense approach to do business can only benefit all.
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“We want to see goods moving freely and we want to see a stronger trading relationship.”
He also added: “The protocol has been absolutely vital in maintaining the trade of our goods across the island of Ireland.
“Roughly 60 percent of the food we produce in our facility in Northern Ireland is exported daily south of the border into the Republic.
“So it’s effectively secured north-south trade”.
Boris Johnson will later announce plans to scrap parts of the Northern Ireland protocol agreed with the EU in 2020.
In light of the announcement, the EU discouraged the UK from making such a move as it warned the move could break international laws.
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