DUP calls for inquiry into Northern Ireland’s offer of exemption from customs regulations
East Antrim MP Sammy Wilson said ‘lessons need to be learnt’ about how amendments to The Customs (Amendment) (EU Exit Regulations 2022) removed the words ‘United Kingdom’ proposing to the place that only “Great Britain” is used.
The government insisted it had tabled the amendments, saying they would ensure trade between Britain and North Iceland ‘continues smoothly’.
Northern Ireland’s omission of what is known as a ‘statutory instrument’ (SI) sparked outrage among trade unionists on social media and prompted the DUP on Monday night to alert the government to the proposed change in the wording that only included “Great Britain”.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss has ordered officials in Whitehall to investigate how the wording was allowed to be changed without “appropriate political scrutiny”.
Mr Wilson said there had been an offer ‘to remove Northern Ireland from the customs territory of the UK’ which, he added, ‘would have been a clear breach of the assurances given by Prime Minister to the people of Northern Ireland”.
He said the Foreign Secretary’s direct intervention to adjourn the drafting of the amendment was both “meaningful and welcome”.
The DUP MP said: “Lessons must be learned from this episode and the government should now focus on honoring the clear guarantee it has given to the people of Northern Ireland, to protect our place in the internal market of the UK.”
He added that the practical execution of the protocol has “resulted in Her Majesty’s Treasury removing us for what the minister described to me today as ‘technical reasons’.
“Clearly the government didn’t know what they were signing up to and don’t know what further damage the protocol will do to the integrity of the UK which is why the only solution is to get rid of the protocol.”
Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie described the initial decision as “reprehensible by this Tory government” who could never be trusted.