During a meeting with the Foreign Secretary and the Paymaster General, Michael Ellis QC ahead of the second reading of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, the Federation of Small Businesses urged efforts to find agreed solutions.
Speaking afterwards, Tina McKenzie, FSB’s Chair of Policy and Advocacy, said she was encouraged to hear the Foreign Secretary, Liz Truss, re-state that a negotiated outcome remains the government’s preference.
“We very much want to see the outstanding issues being resolved through a negotiated settlement, so we get stability and certainty for businesses.”
“It is clear that a significant proportion of small businesses have been negatively impacted by aspects of the Protocol’s operation, and that many others are shielded because of the grace periods, so we need to make sure that we do all that we can to overcome those disadvantages.”
“Some of the proposals contained in the Protocol Bill could provide the basis for pragmatic solutions, such as the establishment of green and red channels for goods, backed by a trusted trader scheme, but this will be best achieved through political agreement.”
“We continue to call on both the EU and UK to consider proposed solutions to the challenges, irrespective of who proposes them, and to return to negotiations, mindful of the need to ensure stability for the wider Trade and Cooperation Agreement”.
“We need to see a sense of urgency to overcome the practical problems of the Protocol’s operation; not only to ensure that it is fit for purpose but because the longer that tensions over it persist, the longer businesses will suffer.”