Before he became prime minister, Boris Johnson had promised businesses in Northern Ireland they would face “no forms, no checks, no barriers.”
The UK government has backtracked on a pledge to avoid customs checks on trade crossing the Irish Sea.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove told parliament there would be additional controls on goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland once the Brexit transition period ends this year.
However, no tariffs would be applied on goods remaining within the UK customs territory, and only the goods destined for Ireland or the rest of the EU would face levies.
The British government detailed its plan in its “Approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol“, released on Wednesday.
The UK left the European Union in January and now has until the end of this year to reach an agreement on a new trade deal with the bloc.
The future of the border between Northern Ireland, which is part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, which is part of the EU, has long been a sticking point in Brexit talks.
Both sides were keen to keep the border open to keep vital trade flowing and prevent a resurgence of tensions on the island after decades of sectarian and political violence.
Before he was elected prime minister last year, Boris Johnson had even promised businesses in Northern Ireland that there would be no trade barriers in the Irish Sea and no customs declarations to worry about.
“There will be no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind. You will have unfettered access,” Johnson said back in November.
In its latest proposal, the UK said it saw no need for new customs infrastructure in Northern Ireland, but that checks would be made on some goods heading to the province from the mainland.
“There will be no new physical customs infrastructure and we see no need to build any. We will, however, expand some existing entry points for agrifood goods to provide for proportionate additional controls,” the paper reads.
It added that the UK would not apply tariffs on goods coming from the UK and bound for Northern Ireland.
“We will not levy tariffs on goods remaining within the UK customs territory. Only those goods ultimately entering Ireland or the rest of the EU, or at clear and substantial risk of doing so, will face tariffs,” the paper reads.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.