Liz Truss is grilled by Kay Burley on Northern Ireland Protocol
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Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, said Britons living in Northern Ireland were facing the eye-watering added costs because of extra bureaucracy imposed by Brussels. Under the Northern Ireland Protocol, agreed in the terms of the Brexit withdrawal agreement, customs checks can be put goods crossing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland in order to protect the EU’s single market.
However, unionists accuse Brussels of being heavy handed in their implementation of the requirements in revenge for the UK quitting the bloc.
Giving evidence to a House of Lords committee, Sir Jeffrey warned companies were passing extra costs onto ordinary people.
He said: “The increased cost as a direct result of the Protocol now is in the region of 30 percent plus.
“That’s driving up the cost of living in Northern Ireland, because the additional cost of transporting goods from Great Britain doesn’t get retained by the haulier, doesn’t get retained by the retailed, it gets passed on to the consumer. And the evidence is there.”
Comparing the costs facing those living in the province compared to the mainland, the DUP leader said those in Northern Ireland were paying a heavy cost for the EU’s red tape.
He continued: “If you take a typical shopping list in Northern Ireland, it is significantly now more expensive to shop in a supermarket in Northern Ireland in comparison with shopping in Great Britain, for the same products, for the same brands.
“Eight percent higher in Northern Ireland than it is in Great Britain.
“And, when you look at chilled meat products, the increase – the differential – is 19 percent more expensive in supermarkets in Northan Ireland than in Great Britain.
“So, these are the harms that are being caused by the Northern Ireland Protocol.”
The UK is already suffering from a cost of living crisis due to soaring inflation.
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Unionists want the EU to agree to renegotiate the Protocol to make it more sustainable in the long run.
Sir Jeffrey said he believes a solution can be found to ease the problems caused by the mechanism while also reassuring Brussels of its concerns.
The DUP has effectively ground Northern Ireland’s devolved government to a halt in protest at the Protocol’s implementation.
The party says it will only restore power-sharing once its concerns have been addressed.
“We need a change,” he said today as he argued for the Brexit withdrawal agreement to be altered.
“I think the arrangements in the Protocol are unnecessary, they undermine Northern Ireland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom, but I don’t see that is required in order to meet the need of the EU to protect its single market.”
The UK Government has said it intends to use domestic law to override parts of the Protocol if the EU refuses to look again at the way customs checks are imposed.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss announced plans to legislate last month and the Bill is expected to be published next week.
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