General election 2019: Boris Johnson ‘does not understand’ deal trade checks

Media playback is unsupported on your device

Media caption“There will not be checks on goods going from NI to GB,” Boris Johnson tells Conservative supporters

Boris Johnson has been accused of not understanding his Brexit deal or what it means for businesses in Northern Ireland.

Labour criticised him after he briefed Conservative members on Thursday.

The prime minister said companies could “bin” customs forms because there would be “no barriers of any kind” to trade crossing the Irish Sea.

But that contradicts what Brexit Secretary Steve Barclay said last month about customs declarations for goods.

Mr Barclay said businesses in Northern Ireland would have to submit customs declaration forms after he initially denied that was the case.

On Friday, Labour’s Shadow Brexit Secretary Sir Keir Starmer tweeted that Mr Johnson’s remarks to Conservative Party members in Northern Ireland suggested he “either doesn’t understand the deal he has negotiated or he isn’t telling the truth”.

Skip Twitter post by @Keir_Starmer

Boris Johnson either doesn’t understand the deal he has negotiated or he isn’t telling the truth. Probably both.

— Keir Starmer (@Keir_Starmer) November 8, 2019


End of Twitter post by @Keir_Starmer

In a video of the meeting, which has appeared on social media, businessman Irwin Armstrong asked Mr Johnson if he could tell his staff “we will not be filling in any customs declarations for good leaving Northern Ireland to go to GB”.

Mr Johnson replied: “You can.”

He added: “If somebody asks you to do that tell them to ring up the prime minister and I will direct them to throw that form in the bin.

“There will be no forms, no checks, no barriers of any kind – you will have unfettered access.”

‘Just being bombastic?’

On Friday, broadcasters questioned Mr Johnson about his remarks.

He told reporters: “Northern Ireland and the rest of GB are part of the UK customs territory and there can be no checks between goods operating in one customs territory.

“We’re the UK – we will not be instituting such checks.”

‘Tory campaign bogged down in Brexit detail’

Analysis: Jonathan Blake, BBC News political correspondent

Image copyright Reuters

Boris Johnson may have been trying to keep the focus of this campaign on his deceptively simple slogan of “get Brexit done” but three days in he’s already found himself bogged down in the detail of his deal.

His words to Tory supporters in Northern Ireland on Thursday were an attempt to allay fears that businesses there would be subject to extra paperwork when shipping goods to the rest of the UK.

 »