UK

Unelected peer denies Tories have conned public over Brexit

UNELECTED peer Malcolm Offord has insisted the Tories have not conned the public over Brexit.

In a BBC interview on Sunday, the Scotland Office minister was grilled over the Northern Ireland protocol, which was drawn up in the wake of Brexit to ensure there was not a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The agreement requires checks on some goods entering Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.

But the UK Government has hinted it may scrap parts of the deal while the EU has said if it does, it may introduce trade sanctions.

The protocol has been a controversial issue ever since it came into force in 2021, as Unionist parties have argued that effectively placing a border across the Irish Sea undermines Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.

Yet, the public were led to believe it was an “oven-ready deal”, according to Boris Johnson, and former secretary of state for international trade Liam Fox said “this is going to be the easiest agreement in human history”. 

But when asked if the UK public had been conned on the subject, Offord this morning said: “Well no. All of us who have grown up in the last 40 years know how difficult Northern Ireland has been.

READ MORE: Sinn Fein’s Michelle O’Neill vows to strengthen the ‘bonds of friendship’ with Scotland

“Where we are right now, the delicate balance of the Good Friday agreement is being undermined in Northern Ireland.

“Trade is being seriously disrupted between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and we don’t have a working government in Northern Ireland. It’s not working.

“We’ve always been pragmatic, and that was always a difficult area of the Brexit agreement, and for 16 months we’ve been saying to the EU can we please show more flexibility in how we implement that? 

“We didn’t expect in sending chilled meats to Northern Ireland, we’d need a veterinary certificate, or that when you send a package to Northern Ireland, you’d need to fill in 50 data points in order to get it transferred.”

The DUP, Northern Ireland’s largest unionist party, is currently refusing to take part in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government unless its concerns are resolved.

READ MORE: Yessers take to the streets for independence march

Even though they came second in May’s elections to Sinn Fein, a nationalist party which accepts the protocol, a new Northern Ireland government cannot be formed without the DUP because of the Good Friday Agreement.

Elsewhere in the interview, millionaire Offord said sacked civil servants would easily be able to find jobs in areas such as fishing and farming.

The UK Government is proposing to cut 91,000 civil service posts to bring it back down to pre-Brexit levels.

Offord said it made sense for the UK Government to try and seek savings when normal people are feeling the pinch.

He said: “This is the proposal that’s gone through and it’s based on the fact the civil service expanded considerably in the last five years, principally to do with Brexit and the pandemic.

“We’re now coming through the other side of both of those and I think it’s only fair that when the government is saying people are going through tough times and we all have to tighten our belts, perhaps the government should also look to find savings. 

“When I go around the country and talk to all the employers whether it’s the farming community, the fishing community, the science community, there are jobs available.

“I’m not belittling losing a job. No one wants to be put out of work, but we are building a highly-skilled economy and those people who have got good skills will find work.”

Offord also rejected the idea of a windfall tax on energy companies as a way of tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

He added: “It’s very bad for long-term economics [a windfall tax] because we have signed up to net zero by 2050 and right now, 75% of our energy needs come from hyrdrocarbons and we have to flip that around and get to 75% renewables and 25% hydrocarbons.

“The only way we will get there is if we have the hydrocarbons reinvesting their profits into renewables.

“I would far rather persuade the hydrocarbon companies to reinvest those profits into a long-term energy strategy that gets our prices down than give them a windfall tax now.”



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