The economic effects of Brexit will be fully felt in five years time as “tragedy” unfolds, the first British EU Commission Vice President has claimed. Uwe Kitzinger said: “It will be in five years’ time that the full effects will be felt. We are only at the beginning of the effects on business, international relations — it’s a tragedy.”
Mr Kitzinger lashed out against Boris Johnson and the former Prime Minister’s Leave strategy as he claimed it was based on “nonsense”.
He also accused Mr Johnson of deciding his Brexit plans “over lunch”.
He told Politico: “There was no preparation. Most of the popular newspapers said get out; it was obvious that Mr [Boris] Johnson decided over lunch which way he was going to go.
“We should have spoken up. We all took it for granted, did not think it would happen.”
He said: “Johnson’s argument that we could do trade with the ex-colonies better than with Europe — it’s so much nonsense, particularly given WTO rules. As members of an economic union, we had far better trade agreements with Australia, with other jurisdictions, than we can ever have after leaving. Johnson argued the opposite.”
The comments come as the UK is still locking horns with the EU over the Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
The protocol was agreed by the UK and the EU as a way to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland after Brexit.
It shifted the requirement for checks and customs declarations to trade crossing the Irish Sea, but is deeply unpopular with unionists, and the DUP has collapsed the powersharing institutions at Stormont in protest.
The UK Government, while continuing to negotiate with the EU over the protocol, has also introduced legislation in Parliament to override many parts of the treaty.
The Bill includes provision for the green and red lane system at Northern Ireland ports – with the green lane for goods from Great Britain which are staying in the region and the red lane to check and control goods going on to the Republic of Ireland and the rest of the EU.
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In a letter to peers, minister for biosecurity Lord Benyon said the Government is “working intensively” to put in place revised arrangements for the post-Brexit Northern Ireland Protocol.
He said the Government prefers a negotiated settlement with the EU over differences on the protocol, but said it was proceeding with arrangements in legislation which overrides parts of the treaty.
In his letter to the House of Lords subcommittee on the Northern Ireland Protocol, Lord Benyon said: “The Government’s preference remains a negotiated solution, but we are proceeding with the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill as the situation in Northern Ireland needs to be resolved in any event.
“This involves preparing to be able to deliver the red and green lane arrangements set out in the Bill in a smooth and timely way.
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“It is written into the Bill’s text itself that we will not set aside the application of EU law in relation to checks and controls for EU-destined goods.
“The Government’s plans for implementation of the red lane were rightly questioned by many peers during the Bill’s second reading and at committee stage.
“The Government’s position has always been that the arrangements in place for the red lane will require the enhancement of existing SPS facilities at points of entry in Northern Ireland.
“The necessary construction has not taken place to date owing to wider concerns about the protocol’s implementation.
“However, acting to deliver these facilities is pivotal to securing a viable and sustainable way forward on the protocol in relation to EU-destined goods.”