Brexit: M&S warns of political ‘operating sore’ in Northern Eire over sausage wars

Empty shelves at a Marks & Spencer's store on the Lisburn Road in Belfast, with retailers 'experiencing some disruption after Brexit' and Marks and Spencer has temporarily withdrawn a small proportion of product lines to ensure its delivery lorries are not turned away at ports.

2021-07-21 14:53:00

Marks & Spencer’s chairman Archie Norman has warned of a political “operating sore of symbolic proportions” if UK chilled merchandise are banned in Northern Eire.

Mr Norman additionally mentioned customers in Northern Eire confronted greater costs and empty cabinets because of the “pointless and byzantine” manner post-Brexit guidelines are being enforced.

The retail boss – and former Tory MP – made the high-profile intervention within the so-called “sausage wars” stand-off between the UK and European Union in a letter to Brexit minister Lord Frost.

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‘We do want a everlasting resolution to this’ – Frost

Beneath the Northern Eire Protocol agreed between London and Brussels, Northern Eire successfully stays a part of the EU single market.

The association is designed to keep away from a tough border between the North and the Republic of Eire however has additionally resulted in a customs border successfully going up within the Irish Sea between Britain and Northern Eire, itself politically controversial.

Shipments of chilled meats reminiscent of sausages from third nations into the EU’s single market are banned.

M&S shipments to the Republic in addition to into continental Europe are already affected by this.

A grace interval agreed between the UK and EU means these merchandise can proceed to be shipped to Northern Eire for now – however that interval runs out on the finish of September.

Mr Norman’s intervention highlighted the corporate’s dedication to Northern Eire as a retailer that continued to commerce and make investments there all through the Troubles of previous a long time.

Archie Norman was appointed M&S chairman in September 2017 and has been credited with driving the chain's latest turnaround. Pic: M&S
Archie Norman emphasised the retailer’s dedication to Northern Eire Pic: M&S

“Nonetheless, the problems we face as a direct consequence of the present customs preparations and compliance regime to the Republic and, in all probability within the North are very threatening to our enterprise,” Mr Norman mentioned in his letter to Lord Frost, which was first reported by the BBC.

“It’s not the general functions of the customs union which can be the issue,” Mr Norman added.

“It’s the pointless and byzantine manner during which the regime is enforced that’s so enterprise harmful.”

Mr Norman known as for a significant shake-up of the compliance regime at the moment in pressure which might end in veterinary checks on as much as 165 lorries and 120,000 pages of paperwork being produced per week as soon as utilized to Northern Eire.

He additionally known as for a deferment of the ban on sure merchandise going into Northern Eire, alongside undertakings that these merchandise wouldn’t be moved on into the Republic.

“We imagine that for political causes alone it is going to be a operating sore of symbolic proportions to implement a ban on a lot favored chilled merchandise into Northern Eire,” Mr Norman mentioned.

“And it is going to be unimaginable for retailers to seek out various provide within the quick time period.

“Due to this fact, we must always recognise the particular place Northern Eire has by not banning the merchandise we can not ship to different EU markets topic to undertakings concerning onwards motion into the EU.”

M&S added that whereas it could put its “shoulder to the wheel” to maintain a lid on costs there was “no different final result for customers in Northern Eire ultimately apart from greater costs given the inflationary pressures being put onto retailers by the regulatory regime”.

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