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Northern Ireland row could send UK back to ‘no deal’ Brexit, warns parcels expert

[ November 9, 2021   //   ]

Triggering Article 16 of the Northern Ireland Protocol – taking unilateral ‘safeguard’ measures– could collapse the UK’s entire trade deal with the EU, warns David Jinks, head of consumer research at ParcelHero.

He said that if that happened, it would effectively send the UK “spiralling back towards a no-deal Brexit, with tariffs on most goods and many other restrictions on EU-UK trade”. Increased checks would create long tailbacks and delay UK imports and exports ahead of Christmas, he said.

David Jinks argued that Article 16 is a weapon of last resort, intended for use only if the Northern Ireland Protocol agreement is causing long-term economic, societal or environmental difficulties. However, he said, the UK government’s main justification for its implementation seems to be ideological as it no longer wants the European Court of Justice to have an oversight role in the deal.

He added: “The Government’s Brexit minister, Lord Frost, said on Friday that triggering Article 16 is ‘very much on the table and has been since July’

David Jinks said the EU fears the government “is planning to use Article 16 like a nuclear button” by entirely suspending articles 5,7, 8 and 10 which would demolish customs, product standards, VAT and state aid rules, while opening a potential back door into the single market.

He added that Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister has already warned that if Britain reneges significantly on the current Northern Ireland border solution, the EU may give notice that it intends to collapse the entire trade deal.

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