O’Toole: UK climbdown on goods quality marks underlines indefensibility and futility of DUP boycott

brexit matthew o'toole Northern Ireland Protocol Windsor Framework

The UK Government’s decision to indefinitely postpone a separate system of product quality marks is a welcome climbdown on Brexit fantasy economics, reducing the prospect of NI-GB divergence and making the DUP boycott ever more indefensible, SDLP Stormont leader and Brexit spokesperson Matthew O’Toole has said.

The UK Government today confirmed that the UKCA safety mark will not be mandated for products sold in the UK, with manufacturers continuing to be able to manufacture to the CE mark standard sold across Europe. As well as addressing universal concern from firms about the cost and practicality of implementing a separate system for no reason other than Brexit ideology, the move means there is now substantively less risk of divergence between Northern Ireland and Britain – making the DUP’s boycott of institutions ever more futile and indefensible.

Permanently postponing a separate UK regime also means that all UK manufacturers will effectively have to follow changes to EU product standards without the UK having a say in the formation of those rules – unlike in Northern Ireland where there are formal structures of communication under the Protocol and Windsor Framework.

Matthew O’Toole MLA said:

“I welcome this latest sign of post-Brexit reality dawning on the British Government. Businesses simply didn’t want a costly and complicated new product mark system to replace the pan-European one that has worked well for decades. Not only does this highlight the grotesquely self-defeating waste of time that is Brexit, it also hugely reduces the substantive risk of NI-GB divergence on product standards. Given that east-west divergence has been the entire justification for the DUP boycott, today’s news makes their continued boycott even more indefensible. Ironically, under the Windsor Framework, Northern Ireland has more formal input into the EU rule making process than post-Brexit Britain – which has none.

“If the DUP is actually serious about making our post-Brexit arrangements work for everyone, they will allow our devolved institutions to function, to take advantage of our dual market access and deal with any remaining east-west issues – along with the multitude of new north-south disruptions to trade and public service delivery. The clear path for UK policymakers, even under a hardline Brexiteer Government and even if they are too ashamed to admit publicly, is away from pointless divergence form EU rules. The DUP’s nihilistic boycott of our institutions is not affecting these decisions, but only punishing the ordinary people of Northern Ireland by deepening the crisis in public services and governance.”


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