Britain’s opposition Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has unveiled a leaked government document which shows the damaging impact of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal on Northern Ireland’s economy, saying it is evidence he is misleading the public.
Johnson has repeatedly said there would be no customs checks on goods moving between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain under the divorce deal which he agreed with the European Union.
But the document, marked “official, sensitive”, says exporters would have to make customs declarations when moving goods between Northern Ireland and Britain and these new barriers will be “highly disruptive” to Northern Ireland’s economy.
The leaked analysis warns that 98% of Northern Irish exporters to Britain are small to medium sized businesses, which are “likely to struggle to bear” the cost of new border checks.
Speaking in central London yesterday, Corbyn told journalists: “Today I can reveal further hard evidence that Johnson is deliberately misleading the people”.
“This is the cold, hard evidence that categorically shows the impact Johnson’s damaging Brexit deal will have on large parts of our country,” he said.
Under Johnson’s divorce deal, Northern Ireland would remain aligned with the EU’s single market rules for trade in animal, food and manufactured goods to resolve the biggest sticking point in negotiations: how to ensure there is a seamless border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
The 500-km border will be the UK’s only land frontier with the EU after it leaves the bloc. The government has agreed to the arrangements for Northern Ireland to avoid erecting checkpoints that could undermine a peace deal, which ended decades of conflict in the province.
Johnson said he had not seen the leaked document but described it as “nonsense”.
A senior government source said the document was written by a junior government official, which was not formally approved.