‘Max fac’ working group visits Northern Ireland for ‘customs fact-finding mission’

The group met representatives from the freight industry, cross-border businesses and community stakeholders

Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured) joined Northern Secretary Karen Bradley for a visit “as part of their working group exploring potential future customs arrangements, focusing on the proposed Highly Streamlined Customs Arrangements”.  Photograph: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark (pictured) joined Northern Secretary Karen Bradley for a visit “as part of their working group exploring potential future customs arrangements, focusing on the proposed Highly Streamlined Customs Arrangements”. Photograph: BEN STANSALL/AFP/Getty Images

 

A British government “max fac” working group visited Northern Ireland on Sunday for what was described as a “customs fact-finding mission”.

Max fac, or “maximum facilitation”, refers to the use of technology to minimise friction at the border if Britain leaves the EU customs union.

A statement from Department for Exiting the European Union (Dexeu) said Brexit Secretary David Davis and Business Secretary Greg Clark joined Northern Secretary Karen Bradley for a visit “as part of their working group exploring potential future customs arrangements, focusing on the proposed Highly Streamlined Customs Arrangements”.

The statement also said the working group met representatives from the freight industry, cross-border businesses and community stakeholders to “further explore how the highly-streamlined customs model could address the unique circumstances of Northern Ireland”.

It continued: “The Prime Minister has tasked two working groups from the European Union Exit and Trade (Strategy and Negotiations) sub-committee with exploring further the two possible future customs arrangements the UK Government have set out.

“Both of the customs models currently under consideration are designed to meet the UK’s three guiding principles: allowing us to trade goods and services as freely as possible with the EU, enable us to have an independent trade policy, and avoiding any hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland while maintaining the constitutional and economic integrity of the United Kingdom.”

Last month Mr Davis made his first visit to the border in his new role during a flying visit to the North.

There was no media access on that occasion either and Sinn Féin complained at the time that Mr Davis did not follow the protocol of telling the local MP Mickey Brady that he would be in the Newry and Armagh constituency.

Dexeu later described this as an “administrative oversight”.