Marks & Spencer Belfast Branch: Add fuel to the fire
Photo: Liam Mcburney / dpa
The head of the British retail chain Marks and Spencer, Archie Norman, has warned of partially empty shelves in Northern Ireland if London and Brussels fail to agree on the dispute over Brexit regulations for the province.
"For this Christmas I can already say that we have to make decisions about phasing out products for Northern Ireland because the risk of getting them through is simply not worth it," Norman said on BBC radio.
British Brexit Minister David Frost and Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis wanted to present proposals to resolve the dispute in parliament on Wednesday afternoon. According to reports, however, these are likely to add fuel to the fire. According to the Financial Times, Frost is calling for the goods controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland introduced at the beginning of the year to be largely eliminated. If Brussels does not agree, Frost wants to threaten with a breach of the agreement.
The background to the dispute is the regulation stipulated in the Brexit agreement that Northern Ireland will continue to follow the rules of the EU internal market. This is to prevent goods controls between the British province and the EU member Republic of Ireland, which could lead to a flare-up of the conflict in the former civil war region. The majority Catholic supporters of union with Ireland insist on an open border with the neighbor.
But the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol makes trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK difficult.
This is also causing tension, especially among the predominantly Protestant supporters of the union with Great Britain.
Brussels accuses the UK government of not properly implementing the protocol.
London, on the other hand, accuses the EU Commission of interpreting the agreement too petty.
dab / Reuters