Ian Paisley says he will take plants to NI in hand luggage amid trade ‘friction’

DUP MP volunteers to bring stock from English wholesaler for constituent during debate on post-Brexit trade

DUP MP Ian Paisley has said he will personally take plants from Britain to Northern Ireland amid ongoing “frictions” in trade.

Speaking in the House of Commons during a debate relating to Northern Ireland’s trading arrangements, Mr Paisley warned: “Dear help the official who tries to stop me.”

The DUP ended their boycott of Stormont after a deal was reached between the British government and the party to address unionist concerns over post-Brexit trading arrangements.

The party had declined to participate at Stormont since 2022 as they said the trading arrangements represented an internal border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.


Speaking at Westminster on Monday, Mr Paisley said: “I have several examples where companies in my own constituency and across Northern Ireland are being held back because of these frictions.

“I, for example, had a constituent in my office this week who said that orders for plants from an English wholesaler, a very, very small business, but she too has been told, go elsewhere. Try somewhere else, don’t buy from the United Kingdom.

“Now I have volunteered to my constituent that as her MP I am quite happy to bring those stocks, those samplings and those seeds over in my hand luggage if she so requires. And I tell you this – dear help the official who tries to stop me.”

Mr Paisley asked for clarification on when a veterinary medicines working group and a plant working group would be established, and when an east-west inter-trade body would be operational.

He also said there was “zero-risk” to the EU single market in him personally transporting plants from Britain to Northern Ireland.

He said: “It’s the same with biscuits. The leader of my party [Jeffrey Donaldson] today met with a company which has been demanded to do certain labelling.

“[The EU] are not trying to change the content of what is in the biscuits or the recipe, but they’re trying to change the label because the single market might be damaged by the wrong label.

“That’s how bent bananas, squared-up cucumbers this argument actually is and we should have left this argument long ago.”

Mr Paisley said the examples he mentioned show the “ongoing damage” to Northern Ireland’s trade within the UK.

He said: “I and my party leader have both been in contact with senior civil servants in Northern Ireland challenging them why frictions continue when this place has spelt out that those frictions ought to have been removed.”

Minister of state for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said he was “really grateful” to the North Antrim MP.

He asked Mr Paisley to give him details of the examples, adding: “I will be very pleased indeed to have officials go through them with a fine-tooth comb and see what can be done in absolutely every case.

“As has been said time and again, work will continue to improve matters, I’m yearning for the full details so we can work on it.”

Mr Paisley said: “I like the minister’s enthusiasm.”

He added: “Can I commiserate with you that you’re going to be dealing more and more and more with myself and my colleagues, and we’ll test you to the Nth degree.”

Mr Baker later said he will write to Mr Paisley about progress on establishing the veterinary medicines working group, adding he had been clear to officials about the need to act swiftly. – PA