The Irish border could yet snag Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal, with experts saying it will be impossible to deliver the computer systems for the special arrangements for Northern Ireland by the end of this year.
Failure to implement the new systems will risk legal action by the European commission against Britain, the Institute for Government says.
In a new report, it says: “The [Brexit] deal has the support of no Northern Irish political parties and it looks almost impossible to complete the practical changes, for government and business, by the end of the year.
Failure to comply with the withdrawal agreement could see the European commission begin infringement proceedings and the UK ending up at the ECJ [European court of justice].”
Johnson’s government remains adamant that there will be no checks or new reporting systems on trade crossing the Irish sea, despite Ireland and the EU insisting that those would have to be in place to protect the Irish border.
The prime minister’s intention to establish a trade deal with the EU by the end of December 2020 was also dealt a blow by Simon Coveney, Ireland’s deputy prime minister, at the weekend as he indicated the bloc would be in no rush to work to Johnson’s timetable.
In a blunt assessment of the likelihood of satisfying Johnson’s “ambitious” vision, he said the fact that Britain had put the timescale for a trade deal into law did not mean the other 27 European countries would fall in line. “In my view, it’s probably going to take longer than a year,” he said.
The IfG’s report says HMRC has previously stated similar systems to the proposed customs arrangements for Northern Ireland would take five years to develop and implement.
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