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Checks for NI imports from rest of Britain

Supporting business: Michael Gove PICTURE: AFP

NEW checks will be carried out on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK as part of the Brexit deal, the government announced yesterday.

Insisting they would be kept to an ‘absolute minimum’ some checks will be needed on agri-food movements, building on what is already happening at ports such as Larne and Belfast, ministers acknowledged.

Under the plan, businesses in Northern Ireland will have ‘unfettered’ access to sell goods to the rest of the UK market, cabinet office minister Michael Gove told the Commons.

The NI protocol was drawn up as part of the EU withdrawal agreement, and the government said it could be implemented ‘in a pragmatic, proportionate way’. Mr Gove added: ‘Implementing the protocol in this way will ensure we can support businesses and citizens, and protect Northern Ireland’s place in the UK’s customs territory while upholding our commitments to the EU’s single market.’

Details of the checks were disclosed in a 23-page government document released yesterday. It states: ‘What the protocol does not do is create — nor does it include any provision for creating — any kind of international border in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

‘That means its provisions must entail the minimum possible bureaucratic consequences for business and traders, particularly those carrying out their affairs entirely within the UK customs territory.’