Abandoning parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol will increase the likelihood of a recession, the Scottish Government’s Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has said.
He responded to the UK Government’s announcement that it was seeking to overwrite parts of the post-Brexit deal on Northern Ireland.
This would be in breach of an international treaty and could provoke a trade war with the EU, he said.
Unthinkable and indefensible
Mr Robertson said: “Today’s announcement that the UK Government are now intending to legislate to enable unilateral action to dis-apply parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol is deeply concerning.
“Let us be very clear – to breach an international treaty, signed in good faith and hailed by the Prime Minister as a ‘fantastic’ moment, is bad enough.
“To contemplate this action when facing a cost-of-living crisis is unthinkable and indefensible.
“The Bank of England warns of UK recession this year and the UK Government provoking a possible trade war with EU could make it more likely. Neither businesses nor consumers will forgive such recklessness.
“This news will be met with dismay by Scottish businesses, who stand to face weeks and months of uncertainty, in a year with record increases in their input prices.”
He continued: “If the UK Government continue down this path, this could result in an increase in waiting times at borders, the risk of tariffs or quotas imposed on goods, or ultimately even the UK’s trade deal with the EU being suspended.
“Increased costs will come straight out of the pockets of the people of Scotland at a time when the cost of living is already rising and post-Brexit trade barriers have led to a 6% increase in UK food prices.”
The industry body Salmon Scotland also wrote to the Prime Minister, raising its concerns about the impact of a trade war.
💬 We must restore the primacy of the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.
Foreign Secretary @TrussLiz updates @HouseofCommons
Full statement: https://t.co/6Z4Sx6I1ZJ https://t.co/cjMBtb3Li2 pic.twitter.com/THnusUjwbG
— Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (@FCDOGovUK) May 17, 2022
Chief executive Tavish Scott said: “Any deterioration in relationships between London and Brussels which leads to friction at the border, delays and queues for hauliers crossing to France or extra costs for our exporters could put us back to where we were at the start of last year when exports were in chaos.”
Earlier, Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said the UK Government intended to bring forward legislation within weeks to make changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol.
The Bill will propose separate “green” and “red” lanes for goods travelling between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, with those destined to stay within the UK freed from EU-level checks.
She told the Commons: “This respects Northern Ireland’s place in the UK, in its customs territory, and protects the UK internal market,” she said.
“At the same time it ensures that goods destined for the EU undergo the full checks and controls applied under EU law.”