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DUP Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart has welcomed confirmation from the Secretary of State Brandon Lewis that an extra £400m will be provided to support local businesses after 31 December but warned that longer-term economic prosperity will depend on continued unfettered trade access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

Mrs Lockhart was commenting after pressing the Paymaster General Penny Mordaunt for assurances that the Government will act to protect consumers in Northern Ireland once the relevant grace periods end.

Carla Lockhart MP said:

“I welcome this additional allocation by the Government which is a reflection of the transition facing local firms as well as recognition of the need to boost Northern Ireland's economic position. Whilst a helpful and necessary move, it will need to be combined with further ongoing work by the Government to ensure unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

The six-month derogation on controls for chilled meats moving from GB to Northern Ireland avoids a cliff edge at the end of this month but more work will be required to ensure at the end of this period we have an outcome that represents unfettered access.

It is vital that if necessary, the Government commits to taking unilateral action to ensure unfettered access between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. This is essential to avoid needless delays, additional cost for business and restricted choice for local consumers.

The economic wellbeing of Northern Ireland must come first. The integrity of the UK internal market, including Northern Ireland, must be protected as we enter the period ahead.’’