Concerns raised after claims Boris Johnson wants staff to find ways to ‘get around’ customs checks

PUBLISHED: 07:53 24 February 2020 | UPDATED: 07:53 24 February 2020

Reports suggest Boris Johnson could significantly shake-up the BBC. Photograph: Rick Findler/PA.

Reports suggest Boris Johnson could significantly shake-up the BBC. Photograph: Rick Findler/PA.

PA Wire/PA Images

Boris Johnson has reportedly ordered his Brexit team to find ways to ‘get around’ checks on goods passing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

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The Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and EU leaves Northern Ireland within the UK customs area but all EU procedures will apply to goods arriving there.

It enables the UK to bypass any border infrastructure to protect the Good Friday Agreement.

But the Sunday Times has reported that officials in Taskforce Europe are seeking to evade Irish Sea checks on goods passing from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

A UK government spokesman responded to the reports by claiming the UK will "comply with its obligations".

They said:"The UK signed the Withdrawal Agreement, including the protocol, last month.

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"The UK will comply with its obligations."

But Ireland's former ambassador to the European Union warned it could prompt politicians in America to halt a trade deal between the US and UK if it ignores obligations over Ireland.

Bobby McDonagh tweeted: "If UK Gov were to renege on its legal obligations under Brexit Withdrawal Agreement to protect Good Friday Agreement it would have many consequences. One would the end of any prospect of a UK-US trade deal."

Sinn Fein MP Chris Hazzard urged that the UK government "must not be allowed to sidestep their responsibilities".

"While there is no such thing as a good Brexit, the protections secured in the Irish Protocol and Withdrawal Agreement offer some protections to local communities and businesses in the north," he said.

"It now appears the British government is planning to ride roughshod over what has already been agreed; this would be completely unacceptable.

"We need to see the EU27 and the Irish government protecting what has already been agreed on the north and working to prevent the Tories from adopting an a la carte approach to their international obligations and responsibilities."

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