Northern Ireland news

Brexit minister's claims that increasing cross-border trade is a 'problem' rounded on by MLA

SDLP MLA Matthew O'Toole

CLAIMS by the Brexit minister that an increase in Irish cross-border trade is a "problem" have been rejected by an SDLP politician who instead described the position as an "advantage".

South Belfast MLA Matthew O'Toole said Northern Ireland's exports to the Republic have doubled since the introduction of NI Protocol while "we still have unfettered access into GB market".

He was responding to evidence given yesterday by UK Brexit minister Lord Frost to a Lords' Northern Ireland Protocol sub-committee in which he expressed concerns about the spike in cross border trade - saying it was "in many ways a problem" and that he didn't want to encourage it.

When asked by the committee chair to expand, the minister said he believed it meant that Northern Ireland businesses are finding it more difficult to source goods from preferred suppliers in Britain.

However, Mr O'Toole slated his comments, tweeting: "Unforgivable to lose this advantage due to Frost's ideology and/or insecurity over his own withdrawal deal."

Ongoing concerns about the post-Brexit impact on vital medical supplies to the north from Britain were also raised yesterday, despite a 'grace' period on checks until the end of the year.

Last week Lord Frost's appeared in person before a Stormont Executive Office committee where he described negotiations with the EU over the NI Protocol as "a little tense" at the moment.

He said the UK and EU needed to find a "new balance" to ensure problems with the protocol's implementation were resolved.

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