Staple food products would be labelled “not for EU” across the whole of the UK and not just Northern Ireland under Brexit plans being discussed by the Government and supermarkets. The proposed labelling rules are part of Rishi Sunak’s Brexit deal with Brussels.
The plans would see labels on staples such as milk, butter, meat, fish and vegetables in Britain despite it having no land border with the EU.
The move is aimed at ensuring the same goods are on the shelves across the whole of the UK.
But former Tory leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith urged the Government to abandon the plan.
Sir Iain told the Telegraph: “They should drop it. It will be seen as ludicrous. This is not why we left the EU. We were meant to be leaving the EU to deregulate, not to over-regulate.”
David Jones, who is deputy chairman of the powerful European Research Group of Tory backbench Eurosceptics, added: “There is no good reason why food produced and sold in any part of the United Kingdom should be labelled ‘not for EU’, much less if it is sold in mainland Great Britain.”
Northern Ireland continues to follow EU rules as it effectively remained in the single market after Brexit to avoid a hard Irish border.
Border checks were instead moved to the Irish Sea but have been reduced by the Prime Minister’s Windsor Framework.
From October, British food products with the “not for EU” label destined for supermarkets in Northern Ireland can go in the “green lane” meaning they are exempt from most checks.
But the stickers are eventually due to apply UK-wide so producers do not have to do separate labelling for Britain and Northern Ireland.
Labels for meat and dairy are set to apply in Britain from October 2024, while they will be put on fruit, vegetables and fish from July 2025.
An EU official said Brussels had “worked hard to find joint solutions with the UK to ease the movement of goods from GB to NI”.
A Defra spokesman said: “This is a proportionate and necessary means of ensuring goods moving in the green lane will only be sold to consumers in Northern Ireland.”
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