Brexit revenge PROOF: Brussels delivering ‘punishment’ – Tory MP highlights key demands
Northern Ireland: UK 'waiting for EU engagement' says Lewis
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Conservative MP Craig Mackinlay claims it has shown much more flexibility with the French Caribbean territory of Saint Martin, which is part of the European Union, and the other half of the island – Sint Maarten, which although an autonomous country within the Netherlands is not in the EU. Despite St Martin being part of the EU single market, its tourist website boasts: “There is no physical border between the French side of St Martin and the Dutch side of St Maarten. The movement of people and goods is completely open.”
Mr Mackinlay argues this shows the EU could adopt a more flexible approach to the Northern Ireland protocol. He claims that it is not worried about products from the United States entering EU territory via Sint Maarten.
He said: “Whilst the argument (by the EU) might be made that there is little to no transfer of goods from St Martin to France or mainland EU, the French side of Saint Martin is properly and absolutely within the EU and its single market as part of France. The parallels with the Republic of Ireland (no land border with the rest of the EU) are obvious.”
The protocol has avoided the need for border checks with the Republic of Ireland but there is deep frustration in unionist circles that it has impeded trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
The EU has agreed to a three-month delay to a ban on the export of meat products such as fresh sausages from Great Britain to Northern Ireland but Cabinet Office minister Lord Frost has warned there is a “very large number of problems with the way the protocol is currently operating”.
South Thanet MP Mr Mackinlay said: “The Saint Martin conundrum is hugely relevant to GB/Northern Ireland trade. The EU seemingly has no problem in flexing its seemingly inflexible single market rules when it suits them.
“In the case of Saint Martin, US products flow freely into the EU Single Market without checks, risks or worries. It is clear the Northern Ireland protocol is being used for political purposes as a Brexit punishment and as a means of ongoing control over the UK. It won’t wash and it won’t work; the government needs to highlight these inconsistencies in its negotiations with the EU.”
A UK Government spokeswoman said: “The protocol is causing significant disruption to businesses and citizens in Northern Ireland, and solutions need to be found urgently.
“That is why we’re working constructively with the EU to try and address these issues, because it’s hard to see how the way the protocol is currently operating can be sustainable for long.
“We will consider all options open to us if solutions cannot be found. Our overriding priority is to protect the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and safeguard Northern Ireland’s place in the United Kingdom”.
A European Commission spokesman said the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland and Saint Martin-Sint Maarten situations and and trade flows “are two different things and cannot be compared at all”.
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