Marks & Spencer’s chairman Archie Norman has warned of a political “operating sore of symbolic proportions” if UK chilled merchandise are banned in Northern Eire.
Mr Norman additionally mentioned customers in Northern Eire confronted larger costs and empty cabinets because of the “pointless and byzantine” means post-Brexit guidelines are being enforced.
The retail boss – and former Tory MP – made the high-profile intervention within the so-called “sausage wars” stand-off between the UK and European Union in a letter to Brexit minister Lord Frost.
Beneath the Northern Eire Protocol agreed between London and Brussels, Northern Eire successfully stays a part of the EU single market.
The association is designed to keep away from a tough border between the North and the Republic of Eire however has additionally resulted in a customs border successfully going up within the Irish Sea between Britain and Northern Eire, itself politically controversial.
Shipments of chilled meats equivalent to sausages from third nations into the EU’s single market are banned.
M&S shipments to the Republic in addition to into continental Europe are already affected by this.
A grace interval agreed between the UK and EU means these merchandise can proceed to be shipped to Northern Eire for now – however that interval runs out on the finish of September.
Mr Norman’s intervention highlighted the corporate’s dedication to Northern Eire as a retailer that continued to commerce and make investments there all through the Troubles of previous many years.
“Nevertheless, the problems we face as a direct end result of the present customs preparations and compliance regime to the Republic and, in all chance within the North are very threatening to our enterprise,” Mr Norman mentioned in his letter to Lord Frost, which was first reported by the BBC.
“It’s not the general functions of the customs union which are the issue,” Mr Norman added.
“It’s the pointless and byzantine means during which the regime is enforced that’s so enterprise harmful.”
Mr Norman referred to as for a significant shake-up of the compliance regime at present in pressure which may end in veterinary checks on as much as 165 lorries and 120,000 pages of paperwork being produced per week as soon as utilized to Northern Eire.
He additionally referred to as for a deferment of the ban on sure merchandise going into Northern Eire, alongside undertakings that these merchandise wouldn’t be moved on into the Republic.
“We consider that for political causes alone it is going to be a operating sore of symbolic proportions to implement a ban on a lot preferred chilled merchandise into Northern Eire,” Mr Norman mentioned.
“And it is going to be unattainable for retailers to search out various provide within the quick time period.
“Subsequently, we should always recognise the particular place Northern Eire has by not banning the merchandise we can’t ship to different EU markets topic to undertakings concerning onwards motion into the EU.”
M&S added that whereas it could put its “shoulder to the wheel” to maintain a lid on costs there was “no different consequence for customers in Northern Eire ultimately apart from larger costs given the inflationary pressures being put onto retailers by the regulatory regime”.