Supermarkets

M&S chairman slams post-brexit rules for Northern Ireland

Archie Norman also warned about the cost of the incoming cost of living crisis, as he predicted inflation levels would reach 10%

The chairman of Marks and Spencer, Archie Norman, has backed government plans to override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol, after condemning the bureaucracy involved with transporting goods across the Irish border.

Speaking to BBC Radio 4, Norman said: “At the moment, wagons arriving in the Republic of Ireland have to carry 700 pages of documentation. It takes eight hours to prepare the documentation. Some of the descriptors, particularly of animal products, have to be written in Latin. It has to be in a certain typeface.”

According to Norman, overseeing the paperwork required for exporting to Ireland now took 30% more driver time, and the additional employment of 13 vets in Motherwell, Scotland, costing Marks and Spencer around £30m.

He said: “The EU are looking for us to impose comparable controls for Northern Ireland and were that to happen it would mean that quite a lot of products from the UK simply wouldn’t get to Northern Ireland and what goes there would be very very costly.

“Marks & Spencer is a big company, we can make almost anything work, however bureaucratic, but for the small artisan cheesemaker or cake baker it would simply be impossible to export any more.”

He added: “The UK government has been very wary of that. To some extent there has been a hankering after the idea that there might be some opportunity of Brexit, a chance to deviate in the future and the EU of course hasn’t really been prepared to contemplate it.”

Norman also warned about the cost of the incoming cost of living crisis, as he predicted inflation levels would reach 10%.

He said: “The crunch is not going to be now, the crunch is going to be in the autumn when people come back from their holidays so have spent their money and there is nothing left in the kitty.”

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