May 20, 2020
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Yes Boris Johnson, There Will Be Trade Checks Between Great Britain And Northern Ireland Once Brexit Is Done
Boris Johnson has always insisted his Brexit deal would not create any extra checks for the vast majority of businesses trading between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
But after months of wrangling, the UK has finally published its plan for GB-NI trade under the withdrawal agreement.
And guess what? There will be checks.
Businesses will need to fill out import declarations for goods travelling from GB to Northern Ireland. These goods will then be subject to checks.
And Northern Irish firms will only get “unfettered” access to the rest of the UK if they “qualify” under a scheme being set up by the government.
For many, that became apparent as soon as Johnson made his concession to the EU to treat Northern Ireland differently to the rest of the UK, in order to get a deal over the line. He did that because Tory Brexiteers did not like the deal negotiated by Theresa May, which kept the whole UK on the same term, but meant the country as a whole would need to follow EU customs rules.
Under Johnson’s deal, Northern Ireland alone follows EU rules in food and goods, and it will continue following Brussels customs rules while remaining in the UK customs territory.
This will maintain the invisible border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, while leaving the UK free to sign free trade deals with countries like the United States.
But the so-called Northern Ireland protocol also means the kind of extra bureaucracy that Johnson has struggled to admit to.
Shadow Cabinet Office minister Rachel Reeves said that “many fear” the government is not willing to admit the full extent of additional checks and tariffs on goods.
She told the Commons: “Today there has been an admission, for the first time, that there will be additional checks, that there will be tariffs on goods at risk of entering the single market.
“Even now, many fear that the government are not willing to admit the full extent of those. We have seven months to get this right and we must.”
Liberal Democrat leadership candidate Layla Moran accused the government of using “double speak”, adding: “The government has admitted that some additional infrastructure will be needed, while traders will face checks on goods crossing the Irish sea.” 
So, what exactly is outlined in “the UK’s approach to the Northern Ireland protocol” published on Wednesday?GB to Northern Ireland tradeJohnson’s deal means the UK applies EU customs rules to goods entering Northern Ireland, in case they are going to be sent on to the Republic and enter the single market, where tariffs may need to be paid.
“This entails some new administrative process for traders, notably new electronic import declaration requirements, and safety and security information, for goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK,” the government states in the command paper.
The UK promises “streamlined” and “simplified” electronic processes but in reality there will need to be physical checks to stop businesses exploiting the arrangements to smuggle.
The government believes it will only have to check 1% of consignments and currently checks only 4% of imports into the UK notified by customs declarations.
These checks are understood to be envisaged “on the market”, for example through visits to shops to see what is being sold.Northern Ireland to GB tradeThe government has promised “unfettered access” for Northern Irish businesses sending goods to the rest of the UK.
But in reality this will only apply for “qualifying” Northern Irish firms to be determined by the UK government.
This is designed to stop someone taking, for example, a car over the invisible border between the Republic and Northern Ireland and then into the UK.
There will have to be checks at some stage in this process to apply tariffs and regulations where appropriate, subject to the trade deal the UK signs with Brussels.Agri-foodThe government insists there will be “no new customs infrastructure”, that is border checks or posts, in Northern Ireland. 
It is a hot-button issue as border posts on the Northern Ireland-Republic border were frequently targeted by Republican dissidents.
But a few paragraphs later it admits there will need to be “expanded infrastructure” at some existing sites where food and agricultural products are checked as they enter Northern Ireland.
This is because Northern Ireland will need to align with EU rules to maintain the “single epidemiological unit” it currently has with the Republic, which makes sense given animals like cows do not respect land borders.
The government will hope that the expanded checking at existing sites – Belfast port, Belfast’s two airports and Warrenpoint port – will not create new targets for dissidents.
 So what now?Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove stressed to the Commons that Northern Ireland can reject the arrangements in a vote in 2024.
Responding to Theresa May, who said the arrangements mean Northern Ireland following EU rules until at least 2024 and potentially indefinitely, Gove said: “If the workings of the protocol are viewed by the people and the parties of Northern Ireland as onerous, too much, intrusive and unacceptable, then they have the opportunity to vote them down in 2024, which is why it is so important that we design an approach which can continue to command consent.”
The European Commission meanwhile pledged to “study in detail” the plans.
“We will share our assessment with the European Parliament and member states and look forward to detailed discussions with the UK at technical level,” a spokesperson said.
“The detailed legal commitments set out in the (Northern Ireland) protocol must now be implemented precisely to give full effect to this solution. 
“The time to implement the protocol is short, and practical implementation measures must start immediately so that the protocol can be operational by 1 January 2021. 
“To this end, the Commission stands ready to work with the UK authorities.Related... UK And EU Will Fail To Strike Brexit Trade Deal By 2020, Experts Warn Exclusive: Younger Leave Voters Want To Keep Or Boost EU Regulation, Poll Suggests Brexit Negotiations At An Impasse Again But Don't Panic. Yet
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