UK on ‘brink of trade war’ with EU as Northern Ireland row rages on

Firms are concerned that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill will cause 'further economic pain' and 'falls in investment'

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The UK is “teetering on the brink of a trade war” with the EU over the Northern Ireland Protocol, business chiefs have warned.

The warning comes after the Government published its Northern Ireland Protocol Bill online.

But firms are worried about “further economic pain” and “falls in investment” following the release of the bill.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss
Loyalists during a rally against the Northern Ireland Protocol
Loyalists during a rally against the Northern Ireland Protocol

Richard Burge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We are hugely concerned the introduction of the Government’s Northern Ireland Bill risks significant harm to businesses in London and right across the whole of the UK.

“Getting Brexit done was at least meant to deliver certainty to businesses after years of waiting for clarity on the future of the UK’s trade relations with the European Union.

“The introduction of this bill means we are now teetering on the brink of a trade war with the EU and that will mean further economic pain and falls in investment.”

While Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O’Neill criticised the Protocol move as “disgraceful and utterly reckless”.

Ms O’Neill said: “It’s a straight up, slam dunk breach of an international agreement.

“It undermines the Good Friday Agreement, and their actions will have huge economic consequences because the reality is, and everybody bar the DUP and bar Boris Johnson knows, that the protocol is working.

“It’s given us an economic advantage. Our economy is outperforming that of Britain and that’s I think what they want to hide in this.

“Boris Johnson’s action yesterday is just completely reckless, and serves to create more instability and serves to create more uncertainty for businesses for planning for the future,” she told RTE Morning Ireland.

Ms O’Neill added: “From the very outset of the Brexit debate, we said that the Good Friday Agreement and Brexit were incompatible.

“We didn’t consent to Brexit, but it’s still being foisted upon us.

“We sought to find some mitigation in the form of the Protocol.

“It protects the all-island economy which is flourishing as a direct result of the Protocol.”