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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn pictured today.
Northern Ireland

Corbyn claims Johnson misled people about customs checks in his Brexit deal

The Labour leader said a confidential report paints a ‘damning picture’ of Boris Johnson’s deal, especially when it came to Northern Ireland.

JEREMY CORBYN SAYS he has obtained a confidential report which “drives a coach and horses” through Boris Johnson’s claim that there will be no border in the Irish Sea under his Brexit plan.

The Labour leader said the leaked document, marked “official, sensitive”, provides the “cold, hard evidence” that the Prime Minister has been “misleading” people about his withdrawal deal.

Brandishing a document, titled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access To The UK Internal Market, at a press conference in central London, Corbyn said it was proof that there would be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

“What we have here is a confidential report by Johnson’s own government, marked ‘official, sensitive’, that exposes the falsehoods that Boris Johnson has been putting forward,” he said.

“This is cold, hard evidence that categorically shows the impact a damaging Brexit deal would have on large parts of our country.”

The 15-page document appeared to be a slideshow prepared by the Treasury and is titled “NI Protocol: Unfettered Access To The UKIM”.

It came as the Tories were dealt a blow by former British prime minister Sir John Major who endorsed three ex-Conservative independent candidates running against Labour in the election.

Corbyn said Johnson’s Brexit deal will be “disastrous for businesses and jobs all across the UK” and claimed the Government’s confidential report “confirms this”.

The document, he said, paints a “damning picture” of the Prime Minister’s deal, especially when it comes to Northern Ireland.

“We have now caught Johnson red-handed misrepresenting his own Brexit deal,” he told journalists.

No checks

2.48813612 PA Boris Johnson PA

Johnson had said there would be no checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under his exit terms, but Corbyn said the document suggests that is not true.

The Labour leader said page five of the document states: “There will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

He added: “It is there in black and white. It says there will be customs declarations, absolutely clearly, for trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

“The Government cannot rule out regulatory checks, rules of origin checks, and animal and public health checks also.

“For trade going the other way, from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, there will be all of the above plus potentially damaging tariffs.”

Corbyn said the report claimed Johnson’s deal will be “highly disruptive to the Northern Irish economy”.

“It says this deal will be the equivalent of imposing tariffs on 30% of all purchases made in Northern Ireland,” he said.

The Labour leader also said the document warns of the potential for fraud, saying Northern Ireland could become a “backdoor into the GB market for the avoidance of import duties”.


Last month Johnson suggested his Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had been wrong to say goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would face checks as a result of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

Barclay previously told MPs that “some information” and “minimal targeted interventions” would be required on goods travelling between the two areas of the UK, due to Northern Ireland remaining aligned with Dublin and Brussels’ trading rules for agricultural products and manufactured items as part of the exit terms.

The news today comes ahead of the final scheduled head-to-head debate between Corbyn and Johnson this evening, and after the PM was berated by Andrew Neil for refusing to do an interview on his BBC show.

Neil said that if the Prime Minister is expected to face the likes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin then he should be able to sit down for a half-hour interview with him.

Johnson has been accused of “running scared” from scrutiny by avoiding in-depth questioning from the veteran broadcaster, even though rival leaders, including Corbyn, have taken part.

The Prime Minister, who has also refused to do an interview on ITV’s Julie Etchingham, will debate with Corbyn on the BBC tonight, with less than a week to polling day.

Some 6.7 million people tuned in when the pair took part in a head-to-head debate on ITV last month.

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