South Scotland MSP Joan McAlpine has questioned Michael Gove MP, a UK Minister without portfolio (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_without_portfolio <en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minister_without_portfolio>) on statements he made on the Northern Ireland Protocol which would mean businesses there being given major advantages over businesses in Dumfries and Galloway as well as the rest of the UK.
Mr Gove was appearing in front of the Scottish Parliament’s Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Affairs Committee last week when Ms McAlpine, who chairs the committee, took the opportunity to question him.
The MP had originally made his claims while giving evidence in the Commons to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee. He told them that, post-Brexit, businesses in the province will have “certain advantages that businesses in other parts of the UK will not enjoy, whether or not a free trade agreement is agreed.”
Ms McAlpine fears that the deal will be unfair to local food producers and construction companies after the UK leaves the EU at the end of December. She says they will struggle to compete with their competitors in Northern Ireland.
The SNP MSP also expressed concern at Mr Gove’s assertion that in the event of post-Brexit tariffs being applied, the UK Government would “cover those costs for Northern Ireland businesses”. She says there’s been no such reassurance for businesses in Scotland.
Commenting Ms McAlpine said,
“Mr Gove was been quite clear in his evidence to the Commons committee that the Northern Ireland Protocol will put businesses in Dumfries and Galloway at a major disadvantage.
Scotland and Northern Ireland both voted to remain in the EU. This new deal being brokered by the UK Government will mean Scotland being dragged out the single market while Northern Ireland retains unfettered access.
“This is grossly unfair to not only our food producers and construction companies but also anyone employed by a business which might tempted to relocate. When I questioned Mr Gove on this he was unable to give reassurances to businesses here in Dumfries and Galloway, instead he told me that we should be glad that Northern Ireland will be able to prosper.
“The south west of Scotland has particularly strong ties with the Island of Ireland and I’m sure we all wish them well. However, that doesn’t mean we want to be put at a trading disadvantage. This is a very worrying development for Dumfries and Galloway and not what the electorate here voted for.”
The full transcript of the House of Commons Northern Ireland Affairs Committee where Michael Gove MP gave his evidence is here: