Lies, Falsehoods and Misrepresentations from Boris Johnson to Rishi Sunak

‎”When [The Northern Ireland Protocol] was written, I honestly don’t think the people behind writing it thought it would have the ramifications that it has.”

Chris Heaton-Harris, Northern Ireland Secretary, Sky News

Facts

Chris Heaton claimed that the authors of the Northern Ireland Protocol did not understand the impact it would have when it was agreed by Boris Johnson in 2019. A number of documents show this to be false.

The European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill impact assessment, published 21 October 2019, contains the government’s own expectations at the time that the Brexit deal was done concerning the border checks required within the UK, in the Irish sea, as a result of Johnson’s deal. The report clearly shows that the government expected there to be checks within the Irish Sea for goods travelling between Britain and Northern Ireland, and that these checks would come at an extra cost for businesses.

The report’s findings were corroborated by the internal leak of a Treasury document two months later. The report made is clear that Theresa May’s Brexit deal for unfettered access to Great Britain was no longer guaranteed in Johnson’s deal. It went on to say that checks and declarations from the protocol would be “highly disruptive to the Northern Ireland economy,” causing prices to rise and businesses to struggle to bear the costs of border checks.

In Dec 2019, the BBC reported on leaked documents from the Department for Exiting the European Union. The documents, seen by the BBC, lists preparing for “high levels” of checks as one of the challenges in delivering the government’s Brexit deal.

Verdict

The Conservative Government’s own Impact Assessment and Leaked Treasury documents in 2019 predicted the problems with the Northern Ireland Protocol. They knew there would be checks and they knew those checks would be damaging. Chris Heaton-Harris, Northern Ireland Secretary, was misleading TV viewers.

We emailed Chris Heaton-Harris’ office and the Northern Ireland Office offering them the chance to respond. The email was received by both, but no reply.

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