Northern Ireland: Coburn clashes with Sammy Wilson over protocol
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BBC Politics’ presenter Jo Coburn confronted DUP MEP Danuta Huebner on how he is using the European Union-UK trade agreement to explain the economic difficulties Northern Ireland is facing when the real issue resides in politics. Pointing out Northern Ireland’s rising economic output, she said the UK-EU trade deal was not interfering in Northern Ireland’s difficulties. On the contrary, Ms Coburn added that Northern Ireland may have benefitted from remaining in the EU’s single market and customs.
Challenging MEP Huebner, BBC Politics’ Jo Coburn said: “But it’s about politics, isn’t it? It’s not about trade.”
“You’re citing the issue of trade but actually, there’s evidence that suggests that Northern Ireland’s economy has been benefitting over this period of time.
“The National Institute of Economic and Social Research says that Northern Irish economic output has slightly outperformed the UK average.
“This is partly an outcome of the Northern Irish protocol and its special status in the Brexit trade and investment conditions as part of the EU single market and customs union.
“Do you accept that?”, MEP Huebner asked.
MEP Huebner said: “Well first of all you have to remember that any trade, which Northern Ireland benefits from is the result of the free trade arrangement, which the rest of the UK had with the EU.
“And you know, it’s not about the protocol. It’s because we have a free trade arrangement with the rest of the EU.
“Secondly, we already know the costs are going up considerably in Northern Ireland transport costs of 27 percent.
“There’s a large number of firms that are running out of supply in Northern Ireland.
“If you order goods from GB, you’re paying costs to get those goods in.”
MEP Huebner conceded that politics may be playing a role but argued that the EU laws in the Northern Ireland is further separating Northern Ireland from Great Britain.
“But there’s a political element to it, you’re right and the political element is this: last week, we elected a Northern Ireland Assembly.
“And the 90 MLAs who will go to that Assembly will find it 60 percent of the laws alluding to manufacturing and the goods aspect of our economy are not made in Northern Ireland.
“They’re not made in Westminster. They’re not made with any input from Northern Ireland representatives.”
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“They’re imposed on us by Brussels,” MEP Huebner continued.
“There’s an anti-democratic element.
“And secondly of course, as EU law becomes more and more entrenched in Northern Ireland and the government is saying they intend to have a bonfire of EU regulations and the rest in.
“Northern Ireland gets more and more separated.”
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