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Brexit / Post-Brexit trade arrangements a ‘bureaucratic mess’ – Carmichael

LOCAL fish and seafood exporters are already losing serious money due to Brexit red tape, Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael claimed in parliament on Monday.

Challenging chancellor Rishi Sunak, the Orkney and Shetland MP said some of the businesses in his constituency were losing five figure sums as a result of trade disruptions and barriers.

Alistair Carmichael
Northern Isles MP Alistair Carmichael. Photo: Shetland News

“The new procedures for export are a bureaucratic mess that has brought export trade to a grinding halt,” the MP said.

“One local fish trader told me this morning (Monday) that a single consignment now has to go with no fewer than 17 attachments and another told me on Friday that he had lost £50,000 on a single consignment that he had been unable to export.

“What is the chancellor going to do to offer help to fish exporters during this difficult time – difficult because of DEFRA’s own rules and procedures?”

Responding for the government, the chancellor said the post-Brexit trade deal provides tariff-free access to European markets.

“He [Carmichael] is right, there are changes to our trading relationship, that has always been the case and both the prime minister and the government have been clear about that,” Sunak said.

“I know the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster [Michael Gove] is working though individual issues as we look over time to improve processes, and he will also know that we have invested a huge amount of resource in both the IT systems at DEFRA but also in providing support for those businesses to fill out various forms and meet new procedures.”

But Carmichael was not impressed. He said: “The chancellor clearly has no idea how difficult these new procedures are for local businesses.

“In fairness the fault for that lies mostly with the prime minister who rushed the deal at the last minute without heeding the consequences.

“Seafood exporters may not face tariffs in trading with the EU but they are tied up in yards of Brexit red tape thanks to this government. If the chancellor has any interest in mitigating this harm then he needs to push for action with his DEFRA colleagues.”