Boris urged to rip up EU red tape for £30m Brexit boost: Let Britain grow’

EU 'trying' to make Britain 'lose Northern Ireland' says expert

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The Horticultural Trades Association (HTA), which represents garden centres and landscape gardeners across the UK also backed Lord Frost’s approach for a “standstill period” for current grace periods for goods traded in Northern Ireland while the Protocol is renegotiated. The protocol was put in place to ensure there would be no hard border with Ireland, but it has instead effectively placed a trade barrier in the Irish Sea.

However, Lord Frost said the economic and social damage caused by the arrangements would have justified the use of Article 16, effectively tearing up parts of the deal.

Under current trading arrangements, common plant species like honeysuckle and oak are banned from being moved from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

This is because Northern Ireland is continuing to follow EU plant health rules, while the UK is not.

James Barnes, chairman of the HTA said the Protocol had severely affected the horticulture industry under the current trading arrangements.

 

He also claimed the association had “seen evidence” Northern Irish businesses had “forsaken long-held supplier relations with GB growers and traders”.

As a result of this, the association chief said horticulture businesses in Northern Ireland were “sourcing plants direct from the EU to avoid the difficulties in buying plants from Great Britain.”

He added: “The new approach proposed by the UK Government could be good news for businesses who need an urgent solution to the current prohibition on trading with Northern Ireland in species like oak, acer and honeysuckle.

“The recognition for some level of equivalence for Northern Ireland trades could be a strategy for a wider UK-EU agreement on plant health standards.”

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Mr Barnes’s message is the heart of the organisation’s Let Britain Grow campaign which is calling for the “standstill” approach to be “pushed forward”.

Mr Barnes argues the approach would remove between “£25m and £30m of extra costs of trade the industry has been hit with” due to the red tape from the Protocol and bring a “more pragmatic approach to restrictions around what plants and trees are being imported and exported”.

He added: “Through acknowledging that each other’s standards in plant health are acceptable not only maintains biosecurity but enhances it.

“This will allow the sector to increase UK-based production and extend our ability to export those iconic British plants, seeds and garden services this country is known for.”

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Lord Frost said he noted seeds and plants had “experienced difficulties” under the Protocol.

He said the new approach would “give stability and surety to businesses”.

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