Conservative minister refuses to rule out triggering Article 16 before Christmas

A Conservative minister has failed to rule out triggering Article 16 before Christmas, risking disruption to families and businesses over the festive period.

Responding to an urgent question in Parliament this morning by Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael, Conservative Paymaster General Michael Ellis failed to rule out triggering the mechanism this side of Christmas, adding that “we want a negotiated outcome but we are willing to use Article 16.”

Meanwhile, Conservative MP Peter Bone suggested in the debate that the date of triggering Article 16 was irrelevant.

Commenting after the debate, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Northern Ireland Alistair Carmichael MP said: “The government’s failure to rule out triggering Article 16 before Christmas risks catastrophic disruption to businesses and households.

Alistair Carmichael MP

“This complacency could see families missing out on Christmas parcels and businesses losing out on vital trading, showing yet again how out of touch the Conservatives are.

“Article 16 is not a get out of jail free card for the Conservatives to use because they don’t like the deal they agreed to. People and businesses in Northern Ireland deserve pragmatic solutions, instead all they get from this government is more political posturing.

“Instead of the ongoing war of words with the EU, ministers should focus on securing a sanitary and phytosanitary agreement that would remove at a stroke the vast majority of disruption for people on either side of the Irish Sea.”

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