Sunak pressed by Northern Ireland business leaders for ‘pragmatic solutions’

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been pressed by business leaders in Northern Ireland for “pragmatic solutions” in a deal on the Brexit protocol.

The UK Government and the EU are negotiating changes to the Northern Ireland Protocol amid speculation that agreement is close.

Mr Sunak spoke with around 15 business leaders in a call on Wednesday.

Nichola Mallon of Logistics UK said while no details were released during the conversation, it was “clear that the Prime Minister has a detailed understanding of the issues Logistics UK has been consistently raising”.

Coronavirus – Wed Nov 17, 2021
Nichola Mallon (Niall Carson/PA)

“This includes the need to find an agreed, workable and durable outcome between the UK and the EU on the NI Protocol which banks and builds on the benefits, and reduces the administrative and cost burdens to businesses trading GB to NI,” she said.

“Along with others in the NI Business Brexit Working Group, I pressed the need for pragmatic solutions that protect NI consumers and work for all sectors across Northern Ireland.”

Stephen Kelly, chief executive of Manufacturing NI, said the Prime Minister was “fully engaged” and had an “intimate understanding of the issues”.

“From reports in the last 24 hours, it appears many issues we have flagged could be resolved, including ensuring goods available to consumers in Southampton are available in Strabane, TRQs, VAT, state aid, tariff reimbursement, consumer parcels and huge reduction in bureaucracy for all traders,” he said.

“Whilst we didn’t discuss the detail of any deal nor the timing, the Prime Minister clearly understood the issues and he was committed to finding agreement with the EU.

“Many stressed a dual regulatory regime works very well for consumer-facing industries but for most producers that it simply does not work and risks the collapse of critical industries.

“The Prime Minister was impressed with the detailed and pragmatic contribution which business has made and wished to ensure that business and others would have a role in mechanisms to resolve issues in to the future should they emerge.”