Elliott: Government a ‘double agent’ in protocol talks

LOCAL politician Tom Elliott has accused the government of acting as a ‘double agent’ amid reports of plans for new facilities for goods checks at Northern Ireland ports.
Details of government proposals to replace the contentious NI Protocol emerged in a letter sent to a House of Lords committee by Lord Benyon last week.
The UUP MLA said the new proposals proved that the government was “playing the role of a double agent by indicating the Westminister protocol bill is acting in the best interests of Northern Ireland, but then announcing the enhancement of the checks at local ports”.
Mr Elliott added: “In what appears to be UK appeasement of the EU to enhance checks at Northern Ireland ports, there is no indication of anything positive coming from the UK protocol legislation that will resolve the issues of the protocol in Northern Ireland. The UK government seems to be giving whilst getting nothing in return.”
Suggestions in Lord Benyon’s letter include a “green lane” for British goods staying in Northern Ireland, and a “red lane” for British goods moving to the Republic and the EU.
The letter, published by the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, said the “red lane” would require “enhancement” of existing facilities at points of entry.
While delivery of these facilities was a devolved responsibility, the letter noted in the absence of a NI Executive that Westminister will “take that work forward”, with work to begin early in the new year.
Mr Elliott believed it was now time that information was provided on the progress of the negotiations between the UK and EU “to establish if there is anything positive for those transporting goods into Northern Ireland”.
“Many hauliers indicate that the paperwork associated with the protocol is significantly adding to their workload and expense,” he said. “There is nothing in this announcement to indicate that will be removed for ‘green lane’ goods, specifically those goods that remain in Northern Ireland.”
However, Sinn Féin councillor Chris McCaffrey described the comments as “disingenuous and misleading”.
“Brexit means that there is no alt3ernative other than to perform checks on British goods outside the single market and customs union, and for anyone to suggest otherwise is deeply disingenuous and misleading,” he said.
“So, I would seriously challenge Mr Elliott’s comments. He is one of the politicians who actually voted for Brexit when he was an MP and who went against the democratic will of the people.
“It is time for truth and reality around Brexit instead of more empty rhetoric.”

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