SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster and party argiculture spokesperson, Patsy McGlone, has warned that a no-deal Brexit would devastate the agri-food sector in Northern Ireland.
Mr McGlone said, “Recent comments by right-wing Brexiters in Britain have suggested that a no-deal Brexit is an outcome that some politicians would welcome.
“The reality is that a no-deal Brexit would have an effect on the North and in particular the agri-food sector that is a vital part of our economy.
“A no-deal Brexit would rip up all of the promises given to the Irish Government and the EU on no hard border on the island of Ireland. No-deal means just that. No commitment given to date by the British Government would be enforceable.
“With a no-deal Brexit, on March 30th 2019 no agri-food products could be imported into the EU because the necessary certified national body to approve those products would no longer be recognized.
“Any certification system put in place would require checks at the new EU border. The current frictionless trade in food and other products would become a bureaucratic and expensive nightmare for farmers and other producers.
“Unless the British Government was to decide to unilaterally give up all the tests and procedures for goods coming into the UK, and hope that the EU would do the same, this would be the reality of a no-deal Brexit.
“The alternative, in a no-deal scenario, would be to adopt the much lower quality control standards of the US and be shunned by our largest nearest marketplace.
“Any emergency provision put in place to extend existing UK-EU arrangements on trade for a limited period would only delay the inevitable catastrophe for the agri-food sector.
“We need to dismiss the notion that a no-deal Brexit would be anything other than a complete disaster. Not just for the agri-food sector, but for the entire economy.
“The SDLP will be having a meeting with the Irish Government and we will continue to argue for a negotiated outcome with the EU that protects the Good Friday Agreement and keeps Northern Ireland as part of the Single Market and Customs Union.”