Mark Drakeford ‘baffled’ by UK Government complaints about Brexit deal
Mark Drakeford has said he’s “baffled” by the UK Government’s complaints about the Brexit deal with the EU.
Ministers from the Conservative government in Westminster says they are unhappy about the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was signed as part of the deal.
The First Minister pointed out that this “is the deal that they themselves signed up to”, and suggested that “UK Government ministers talk as if the deal was entirely somebody else’s responsibility”.
He said: “I don’t think it’s helpful when UK ministers make hardline speeches, drawing red lines, criticising the deal that they themselves had signed.”
The Northern Ireland Protocol, was created to stop checks along the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
It keeps Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods, and this has created a new trade border with Great Britain.
The UK Government, which championed the deal at the time, is arguing the current arrangement imposes too many barriers on trade.
It is demanding to fundamentally change the protocol by removing the European Court of Justice (ECJ) from an oversight role. The EU is refusing to budge on this issue, but it has proposed amendments to the protocol that would reduce checks on goods and paperwork.
During an interview with Sky News, Mark Drakeford said: “Now I am frankly baffled by some of the things we hear from the UK Government. The deal is the deal that they themselves signed up to. It is their deal.
“Yet so often we hear UK Government ministers talk as if the deal was entirely somebody else’s responsibility. Now I met the EU Ambassador to the United Kingdom yesterday. I agree that the announcements they make do genuinely show practical attempts to deal with the problems there have been at the border.”
According Leo Varadkar, the Tánaiste of the Government of Ireland, the protocol means that Northern Ireland is facing far less issues in terms of shortages than the rest of the UK. He pointed to shortages of goods on shelves in Wales as well as petrol stations being closed.
He said: “One thing I would say while people are pointing out some of the difficulties that the protocol may have in terms of getting goods from Britain into Northern Ireland.
“Look at the trouble Britain has had getting goods into Britain, you know real shortages in England, now in Scotland and Wales, ranging from petrol stations being closed to shelves not having goods on them because of Brexit, and actually the protocol has protected Northern Ireland from that.
“It has fewer supply issues than the rest of the United Kingdom.”