MICHAEL Gove announced that if businesses in Northern Ireland are hit by tariffs due to a failure in Brexit talks, he will reimburse them.
This comes after Mr Gove received heavy criticism from MP’s about being unprepared for the region of Northern Ireland. The Chancellor of the Lancaster of Duchy told the Northern Ireland affairs committee that: “We want to make sure that in the event of there not being a free trade agreement of whatever kind with the EU that we are in a position to indemnify and reimburse companies for tariffs.” When we talk about a ‘No-Deal’ that would mean a particular arrangement for Northern Ireland.
It would see EU tariffs payable on goods operating within the region, but then for goods that they don’t venture into the Republic of Ireland, you’d see rebates being granted.
In order for these tariffs arrangements to be able to be put in place before January, there would need to be some kind of secondary legislation.
Those in the business sector have described the move as “significant” but have still expressed concern over the lack of detail.
The Director of the Northern Ireland retail consortium, Aodhan Connolly, has said: “What paperwork would be needed? How long would it be for reimbursement as that is a huge cash flow problem?”
He further picked up on the fact that EU state-aid rules would make the scheme problematic for big companies.
In terms of the motoring industry, imports on cars would experience a 10 per cent additional levy on purchases from Nissan in the UK.
This is while having no knowledge of when they’d be getting a rebate.
Moreover, state aid rules would mean they wouldn’t be allowed anything more than €200,000 over three years.
This would limit the number of cars they’d be able to buy from Great Britain.
It seems to all be a part of Michael Gove’s “command paper” which many are saying is surprisingly low on detail, which is strange considering Mr Gove usually has a great capacity for such precision.
Labour MP, Hilary Benn, tried questioning Michael Gove numerous times over whether or not declaration forms would be needed for British businesses selling into Northern Ireland.
As these are currently needed for goods brought into the UK from outside the EU.
Mr Gove was unable to provide concrete answers on that particular question.
The Cabinet Office Minister, also mentioned that new safety and security information, that would be required for the operational detail, wouldn’t be available till later in summer.
At a Labour webinar, unions, farmers and businesses expressed their anger with lack of detail coming from the government.
It was just like “walking out into the mist, into the fog,” according to Victor Chestnutt, the deputy president of the Ulster Farmers’ Union.
The committee chairman, Simon Hoare, said the apparent “open skies” thinking was risky. “Six months out, it seems to be playing with fire,” said the Conservative MP for North Dorset.
He added that trying to get firm information out of Gove and the Northern Ireland secretary, Brandon Lewis, made him feel like “Alice through the looking glass trying to divine what words mean”.