Colum Eastwood champions Derry's famous Doherty's sausages in House of Commons
Colum Eastwood championed Derry's famous Doherty's sausages in the House of Commons this morning.
The Foyle MP said: "With all the talk of sausages and the Protocol I hear very little from this government on the benefits of the Protocol for local producers."
He raised the matter with Brandon Lewis as the grace period for the unfettered importation of British sausages and other chilled meats into the north continues to run down.
Mr. Eastwood suggested local businesses are well placed to benefit from the Protocol due to Derry s unique status as a de facto part of both the EU Single Market and the UK’s customs territory.
"Can I ask the Secretary of State what is he doing to promote those benefits and can he tell the people of Derry what exactly he and Lord Frost think is wrong with Doherty's sausages?"
Mr. Lewis replied: "The honourable gentleman and I agree on a number of things including the quality of sausages from across Northern Ireland which his colleagues can probably tell I do get to enjoy from time to time and he makes a very fair point on that.
"That is at the heart of the issue here. It should be a matter for consumer choice not regulatory regime.
"The reality is across the United Kingdom consumers are going to a supermarket. In my constituency in Great Yarmouth they see a range of products that are different to what they'll see in the Midlands or Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland but that's because of consumer choice and not regulatory command and that's what we have got to ensure that Northern Ireland residents have - that ability to make that choice."
The Secretary of State said he wants to get the Protocol to work in a 'properly flexible and pragmatic way' and suggested that if it does it will create an opportunity for the north.
However, he claimed the arrangement is not working at present.
"We also have to be cognisant of the fact that at the moment it is causing real disruption, real problems for businesses, and consumers in Northern Ireland, from across the whole community, and it does have an impact on the sense of identity for people in the unionist community.
"We have to accept that and respond to that and deal with the Protocol in a pragmatic way."