A new report, published by a cross-party Westminster committee, has slammed the UK government’s decision to leave the Customs Union, and has starkly illustrated the danger it poses to Ireland.
The committee, co-chaired by a Tory and Labour MP, describes the decision to leave the customs union as; ‘a reckless and economically dangerous self-inflicted wound’.
The report calls out the UK government’s recent paper on future customs arrangements as being; ‘overly optimistic to the point of being irresponsible and equally vague’, while slamming the government for having done very little domestic work to prepare.
Responding to the report, Fianna Fáil’s Brexit Spokesperson, Stephen Donnelly TD said, “It is good to see such dissenting voices in Westminster on this issue. The Brexit referendum in no way tied the UK government to leaving the customs union. Doing so puts many Irish jobs at risk, places unnecessary risks on the peace process and makes it very hard to avoid a border around the six counties.
“The report pulls no punches in calling government out, including detailing the many potential dangers the UK faces if it leaves the customs union.
“Due to the close economic and social ties between the UK and Ireland, many of those dangers apply to Ireland too. The fallacy of barrier-free trade for Irish farmers and businesses is laid bare, as is that of a seamless, frictionless, invisible border with Northern Ireland. The real danger of future smuggling is highlighted, so too is the potential increase in costs to business of up to 24%.
“The simple reality is that if the UK government is serious about no border, about protecting jobs and about future trade, then there is one obvious step it should take – remain in the customs union.
The deputy concluded, “The Irish government must press this point, and this case can only be strengthened by such straight talk coming from a cross-party Westminster committee.”