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DUP MP Carla Lockhart has met with Rt Hon Michael Gove MP, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, during a visit to Ulster Carpets in Portadown. Mrs Lockhart had invited the senior Conservative to Upper Bann when addressing the House of Commons on UK/EU negotiations, to engage with business leaders to discuss concerns around the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Commenting on the meeting, Carla Lockhart said:

“I’m grateful to Michael Gove for fulfilling his commitment to me by visiting Portadown and engaging with local business and listening to their understandable concerns around the impact of the Northern Ireland Protocol on trade.

We had a useful and frank discussion about the impact of the deal reached between the Government and the European Union in relation to Northern Ireland. The Prime Minister made promises about trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom and the Government needs to deliver on those promises for the people of Northern Ireland.

We welcome the £355m package to ‘ease trade’ but its very existence demonstrates and validates our concerns about the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Furthermore, as yet we still have many unanswered questions around VAT rates, access to trade deals and the impact on our agri-food sector which need answers. The clock is ticking, and we need clarity now to allow for effective planning.”

Mrs Lockhart also pressed the Government for support for marking the centenary of Northern Ireland:

“2021 and the one hundredth anniversary of the creation of Northern Ireland will soon be upon us, and I made the case for greater Government support for celebrating this historic milestone.

I also urged Mr Gove to use the anniversary as a platform for the Government to outline a bold vision for the Union moving forward – 2021 should be about celebrating our past, but also about planning for the future and ensuring the Union is a place where more and more people want to live, to do business and to feel a part of.”