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Jeremy Corbyn claims PM misled people about customs checks in his Brexit deal

UK News | Published:

The Labour leader said a confidential report paints a ‘damning picture’ of Boris Johnson’s deal, especially when it came to Northern Ireland.

Jeremy Corbyn has said he has obtained a confidential report which “drives a coach and horses” through Boris Johnson’s claim that there will be no border in the Irish Sea under his Brexit plan.

The Labour leader said the leaked document, marked “official, sensitive”, provides the “cold, hard evidence” that the Prime Minister has been “misleading” people about his withdrawal deal.

Brandishing a document, titled Northern Ireland Protocol: Unfettered Access To The UK Internal Market, at a press conference in central London, Mr Corbyn said it was proof that there would be customs checks between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after Brexit.

“This is cold, hard evidence that categorically shows the impact a damaging Brexit deal would have on large parts of our country.”

The 15-page document appeared to be a slideshow prepared by the Treasury and is titled “NI Protocol: Unfettered Access To The UKIM”.

It came as the Tories were dealt a blow by former prime minister Sir John Major who endorsed three ex-Conservative independent candidates running against Mr Johnson’s party in the election.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

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The document, he said, paints a “damning picture” of the Prime Minister’s deal, especially when it comes to Northern Ireland.

“We have now caught Johnson red-handed misrepresenting his own Brexit deal,” he told journalists.

Mr Johnson had said there would be no checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain under his exit terms, but Mr Corbyn said the document suggests that is not true.

The Labour leader said page five of the document states: “There will be customs declarations and security checks between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”

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He added: “It is there in black and white. It says there will be customs declarations, absolutely clearly, for trade going from Northern Ireland to Great Britain.

“For trade going the other way, from Great Britain to Northern Ireland, there will be all of the above plus potentially damaging tariffs.”

Mr Corbyn said the report claimed Mr Johnson’s deal will be “highly disruptive to the Northern Irish economy”.

“It says this deal will be the equivalent of imposing tariffs on 30% of all purchases made in Northern Ireland,” he said.

The Labour leader also said the document warns of the potential for fraud, saying Northern Ireland could become a “backdoor into the GB market for the avoidance of import duties”.

Last month the PM suggested his Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay had been wrong to say goods between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK would face checks as a result of the Brexit deal struck with the EU.

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay
Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay previously told MPs that “minimal targeted interventions” would be required on goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

It comes ahead of the final scheduled head-to-head debate between Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson later on Friday, and after the PM was berated by Andrew Neil for refusing to do an interview on his BBC show.

Neil said that if the Prime Minister is expected to face the likes of Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin then he should be able to sit down for a half-hour interview with him.

Mr Johnson has been accused of “running scared” from scrutiny by avoiding in-depth questioning from the veteran broadcaster, even though rival leaders, including Mr Corbyn, have taken part.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Some 6.7 million people tuned in when the pair took part in a head-to-head debate on ITV last month.

On Thursday night, Neil challenged Mr Johnson to finally agree to an interview on the theme of “trust” and why voters have “deemed him to be untrustworthy”.

Addressing viewers directly following his interview with Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage, Neil said he wanted to put “questions of trust” to the Prime Minister.

Boris Johnson
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been accused of “running scared” from the media

“The format is broken and needs to change if it is to start engaging and informing the public again,” the source said.

“The PM will focus on talking to voters about people’s priorities including investing in our NHS and helping with the cost of living.”

Mr Johnson is said to have taken part in more than 100 interviews during the election campaign, and discussions on the Neil interview are understood to be ongoing.

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