Brexit: Haulage boss discusses difficulties with EU rules
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Haulage boss Robert Hewett bought a new depot in the Netherlands after Brexit to continue his business but found out his drivers could not drive them due to not having EU-registered driver’s licences. He has since found a loophole in the European Union’s rules to train his drivers in Ireland to keep his business running. This is expected to cost him a total of £130,000.
Speaking to BBC Panorama, Mr Hewett said: “We thought we’ve invested £3.5million by buying a facility in Europe to overcome the Brexit thing and be ahead of the game and then this hit us.
“The people here, they’ve got families and everything else and we’re making decisions about their lives and they’re trusting us so it would be nice to have some guidance at some point.
“But in the meantime, we get on with it. That’s what we do.
“We’re here and we won’t let them down.”
It comes as Northern Ireland’s relationships with Great Britain and the Republic have been damaged by the Brexit protocol, DUP leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson has said.
In his first interview as leader, Sir Jeffrey called on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to recognise the protocol has harmed Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in the United Kingdom.
He said there will be “opportunities going forward” from the protocol, which grants Northern Ireland access to UK and EU markets, but they cannot be accessed yet because of “unnecessary barriers” created by the Irish Sea border.
He told Sky News on Sunday: “At the heart of the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement are our three sets of relationships, and there’s a very delicate balance within that agreement as to how those relationships are managed.
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“One of the key relationships is that between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
“The agreement is very clear. The principle of consent protects the rights of the people of Northern Ireland to determine their constitutional status.
“When you harm one of those relationships, you harm all of them by extension.
“That’s exactly what we’ve seen happening because our relationship with Great Britain has been harmed by this protocol.
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“So too our relationship with the Republic of Ireland has been harmed, and indeed it has undermined and destabilised relationships within Northern Ireland itself.
“We’ve seen that even on our streets. So it is imperative for all of us that we resolve these issues.”
The protocol is deeply unpopular with unionists and loyalists as it creates a trade border between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and means EU rules governing trade in goods still apply in the region.
Asked why protesting loyalists should trust Mr Johnson to deliver on the issue, after he negotiated and signed up to the protocol, Sir Jeffrey said the Prime Minister should be given a “second chance”.
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