New Northern Ireland Protocol battleground over metric measurements

New Northern Ireland Protocol battleground as Tories complain province must be able to use pounds and ounces rather than metric

  • Tory Brexiteers said Northern Ireland must have same Brexit freedoms as GB
  • They want ministers to ensure that NI shops can sell using imperial measures
  • The Government is looking at allowing UK shops to ditch metric measurements
  • But Brexit divorce deal means NI would have to stick with the metric system

Tory Brexiteers have told the Government that Northern Ireland must have the same Brexit freedoms as the rest of the UK as they push for shops in the province to be allowed to sell goods in pounds and ounces. 

The Government announced in September that it is looking at allowing UK shops to sell fruit and vegetables in imperial measurements as part of a bonfire of EU red tape. 

But the Brexit divorce deal reportedly means that Northern Ireland will have to stick to the metric system of grams and kilograms. 

Talks between Britain and Brussels over improving the Northern Ireland Protocol are due to get underway tomorrow and Tory MPs want Lord Frost, the Government’s Brexit chief, to secure changes to avoid a ‘two-speed UK’. 

Lord Frost is under pressure from Tory MPs to ensure Northern Ireland can take advantage of the same Brexit freedoms as the rest of the UK

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the former Tory leader, said changes to EU red tape should apply to the whole of the UK

Ministers are looking at all of the EU laws which were kept on the UK statute book after Brexit.        

Legislation made in Brussels will be ‘improved or repealed’ if it is judged not to benefit the British people.  

The shake-up will include a review of EU restrictions on selling goods in pounds and ounces in what could pave the way for a return to using more imperial units. 

Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the Tory former leader, was in charge of an initial Government-commissioned review on EU red tape. 

That process resulted in a wave of recommendations on EU laws and rules which could be repealed.

Sir Iain told The Telegraph that Northern Ireland must be treated the same as the rest of the UK. 

He said: ‘All of the things we do on the GB side must also be relevant to those who live in the United Kingdom on the Northern Ireland side. 

‘The TIGRR report [Taskforce on Innovation, Growth and Regulatory Reform] is aimed at the whole of the United Kingdom, not just GB. I made that point to Lord Frost.’  

The British Weights and Measures Association group said shops in Northern Ireland should be able to sell their goods according to UK rules. 

Warwick Cairns from the group said: ‘We can see why the EU would want to insist on goods exported from Britain to the EU following their labelling rules. 

‘But when it comes to how people buy, sell and measure goods within the UK, we can’t see how it affects them or why they would expect to set the rules.’  

The Government’s response to Sir Iain’s report set out a ‘package of proposed individual regulatory reforms to laws inherited while a member of the EU’.    

The proposed changes include looking at whether to change the rules on people being allowed to sell goods using imperial units of measurement. 

The Government said in its ‘Brexit opportunities’ document: ‘We will review the EU ban on markings and sales in imperial units and legislate in due course.’ 

The current law states that traders must use metric measurements like grams, kilograms, mililitres and litres when selling packaged or loose goods. 

The only products which can be sold in imperial units are beer or cider by the pint, milk in a returnable container by the pint, and precious metals by the troy ounce.

The existing rules state that traders ‘can display an imperial measurement alongside the metric measurement but it cannot stand out more than the metric measurement’. 

The EU and UK are set for an intense round of negotiations in the coming weeks after Brussels last week published a range of proposals aimed at improving post-Brexit border rules in Northern Ireland. 

 The Government announced in September that it is looking at allowing UK shops to sell fruit and vegetables in pounds and ounces 

The UK and the EU are due to meet for talks this week as they try to improve post-Brexit border arrangements in Northern Ireland

The EU has offered to slash the number of customs checks on goods moving from GB to Northern Ireland. 

But its offer did not address a key UK demand – the removal of the oversight function of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in the operation of the protocol.

UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost has warned the Government is prepared to suspend aspects of the protocol – by triggering the Article 16 mechanism – if it cannot reach agreement with the bloc on changing how it operates.

That has raised the prospect of the EU taking retaliatory action, potentially in the form of further restrictions on trade with the UK. 

The protocol, agreed as part of the original Brexit deal, requires checks on goods to be carried out at ports in order to avoid the return of a land border with the Republic. 

But it has caused disruption to trade and angered unionists who have demanded the rules be scrapped, arguing they create a barrier between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. 

Source: Read Full Article