Lord Frost’s on the record confirmation that he wants to stop the growth in North-South trade is chilling confirmation of his Government’s total indifference to the welfare and prosperity of the people of Northern Ireland, SDLP Brexit spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said.
Speaking at a Tory conference fringe last night, Frost described the large increase in north-south trade, a result of the Protocol and the north’s unique access to the EU single market as “a problem” which the UK Government had to act quickly to solve. The most recent figures from the Republic’s Central Statistics Office showed a 77 per cent increase in exports from north to south.
As the only part of the UK or Europe with unique dual market access into both markets, the SDLP has called consistently for a strategy to maximise the economic benefits from Northern Ireland’s unique position – but Frost’s remarks make clear UK Government policy is explicitly directed at harming our potential for growth and ending our unique status in order to spare Tory blushes over the effects of the Brexit they have inflicted on Britain.
Matthew O’Toole MLA said:
“To hear David Frost rail against the EU is nothing new, but to hear him state clearly and coldly that he wants to damage north-south trade and stop Northern Ireland’s growing exports to the EU single market is sickening and chilling. It is clear Frost isn’t looking for solutions to smooth the flow of goods from GB into NI – which we all want to see – but is determined to destroy the unique economic advantage that Northern Ireland now has.
“We have been among the least productive regions in these islands for most of our history. Brexit has posed huge threats to our society and economy, but the dual market access under the Protocol offers us a rare and unique opportunity to be at the crossroads of two major markets. As Lord Frost himself acknowledged in his remarks, the statistics show that trade from NI to the Republic is increasing positively – but he wants to end that.
“To hear a British minister state coldly and clearly they want to harm our small chance at prosperity is utterly shocking, though hardly surprising. Unionist politicians should now be clear that the upshot of what they are asking for is damage to the Northern Ireland economy they profess to care about so much.”