News & Media

Internal Market Bill is a full-throated assault on the withdrawal agreement – Govt must now prepare for the likelihood of a no deal Brexit

15 September 2020

Statement by Brendan Howlin TD
Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs, Brexit, Northern Ireland and Justice
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“The Internal Market Bill which passed 1st stage in the House of Commons is a full-throated assault on the withdrawal agreement that was signed off by Boris Johnson and his Government and the UK Parliament last year according to Labour Brexit Spokesperson Brendan Howlin T.D.

Deputy Howlin said: 

“The current line from the Prime Minister that there was a misunderstanding about the contents of the withdrawal agreement specifically in relation to the issue of state aid and the need for customs declarations on goods coming into Northern Ireland is disingenuous. When he endorsed the deal, it was explicitly understood in order to preserve the uniqueness of Northern Ireland and the Good Friday Agreement that goods coming into Northern Ireland needed some sort of checks because they were effectively coming into the EU single market.

“This is a deliberate ploy by Boris Johnson to collapse the ongoing trade talks in the hope that the provocation from Britain is such that the EU will walk away. That is recklessness in the extreme and it does untold damage to the reputation of Britain as an honest broker and deal maker.

“However, it also has very serious economic implications for both the UK and Ireland. It is not enough for Ireland to wring its hands and condemn this madness. The Government must now prepare to deal with the fallout.

“We are very dependent on the UK land bridge to export our goods into mainland Europe. From the 1st of January next if we are forced to revert to WTO terms in the the absence of a trade deal or a very minimalist trade deal, it will have consequences for the checks on goods exiting Britain at continental ports. This could result in chaos and in particularly in the initial weeks. We have to build contingency now if the UK land bridge is severely limited.

“Within the Irish Strategic Investment Fund there is a specific connectivity fund and we should be using that now to immediately develop direct sea routes from the Island of Ireland to continental Europe. While infrastructure has been built at Dublin, Cork and Rosslare Europort capacity has not been built in the same manner. We need additonal providers and more vessels in order to develop new routes and the Government need to focus all their energy on developing that vital connectivity.