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The DUP’s Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has said the failure of the Secretary of State, Rt. Hon. Brandon Lewis MP, to guarantee that the issues mitigated against by extension of grace periods will not be allowed to arise again is unacceptable, and offers business no long-term certainty.

After challenging the Secretary of State in the House of Commons, Carla Lockhart said:

“The decision by the Government to unilaterally extend grace periods helps but does not deal with the overarching cause of the problem. That is the Protocol.

One such issue that the Government action addresses in the immediate term is the ludicrous ban on plants or vegetables that have soil attached to them from entering Northern Ireland from mainland UK. Anyone with a scintilla of common sense will recognise this ‘ban’ as entirely disproportionate, yet on the insistence of the EU it is causing significant problems for local horticulture firms, local gardening enthusiasts and now we learn even local sports clubs.

What we need is the Government to guarantee that this will not re-appear as a problem at the end of the grace period. The lack of any such guarantee from the Secretary of State is worrying. This cannot be a case of the Government kicking the can down the road. That solves nothing, and leaves business in continued limbo and uncertainty.

There is a growing recognition that the Protocol is simply unworkable. More and more businesses are calling for it to go. These short-term measures lift the immediate problem but offer no long-term solutions. We need the Government to recognise this, scrap the Protocol, and find a new way forward. This job of work needs to start now to protect our economy, protect local jobs and local household incomes.”