Florence speech welcomed but ‘lacks detail on core problem’

Elements in last week’s speech by the UK Prime Minister Theresa May in Florence were welcomed by the President of the ICSMA (Irish Creamery Milk Suppliers Association) John Comer.

However, the president expressed disappointment in the news that the UK is still intent on leaving the single market and customs union.

The parts of May’s speech that were welcomed by Comer focused on setting out the UK government’s commitment to open trade with the EU and its determination not to return to any kind of ‘hard’ or physical border between the two jurisdictions of Ireland.

“The trading arrangement post Brexit is hugely important to Irish farmers and remaining part of the single market or customs union would have resolved many of these issues.

“We have to regretfully note that that option seems now completely discarded and while the Prime Minister has again repeated her government’s contention that there should be no need for tariffs post Brexit – a sentiment with which Irish farmers will completely concur – we are still left with the problem of how this is going to be achieved.

We were back here at the issue’s ‘core problem’ which is that, even if goodwill is there from all parties, how do we move forward to this situation?

“How can it be achieved even if it’s now acknowledged that a transition period and a free trade agreement should now be part of the solution?” he asked.

In relation to the border, Comer said that Prime Minister May’s comments were reassuring and a recognition that no rational observer wanted to move from the present situation which worked so seamlessly back to a ‘hard’ border.

Such a border would hamper day-to-day living and present a significant obstacle to commerce and overall economic development, he reminded.

Once again, we were left with aspirations with which no one could object but very little hard detail around how the practicalities were to be addressed, Comer concluded.