Marks & Spencer’s Chairman Archie Norman warned further political division and higher food prices in Ireland if the UK and European Union fail to get a deal on trade right.
Just a day after branding the UK’s Brexit plan for Northern Ireland “baffling,” Norman again warned that a flawed deal — with needless requirements such as extra food labeling — would not only lead to higher food prices but could become a visible problem in the north-south divide.
“If you are in Northern Ireland and you know that all your food has to be separately labeled, or you know that you are paying higher food prices because of something, a consequence of the Northern Irish protocol, that doesn’t really help the politics of Ireland,” he said, speaking on the sidelines of an event held by advisory group Global Counsel in London.
London and Brussels have been in a deadlock over trade rules since Britain left the European Union — and rules on livestock and food products are some of the most difficult issues. The UK no longer follows EU regulations, so costly and time-consuming physical checks must be carried out at the Irish Sea border. This is particularly important to the EU, which wants to ensure no disease is passed into its single market.
Earlier this week, Norman urged Britain’s Foreign Secretary during talks with the EU not to consider plans for separate labeling of goods sold in Northern Ireland, calling them “overbearing” and “baffling”.
“We’ve said from the beginning, this is quite solvable,” said the former Conservative MP. “The best way to solve it is to agree that our food standards in effect are equivalent to those in the European Union.”