South Scotland SNP MSP Emma Harper has received confirmation from Scotland’s Rural Economy Secretary that work on the plan for the creation of a Border Check Point (BCP) in Stranraer, following the UK’s departure from the European Union, has been paused.

The SNP MSP raised the issue with the Scottish Government, who stated that in the absence of any such assurances from the UK Government, and given the enduring uncertainty surrounding the UK Government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, that they have had to pause the construction of the BCP.

The Scottish Government started work last autumn to build a border check point which would apply devolved sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) controls on EU goods arriving into Scotland from Belfast and Larne. The Scottish Government has been engaging with all stakeholders (the UK Government, Dumfries and Galloway Council and other officials) to determine the scope, scale and specification of this work. However, the Tory UK government have failed to provide any assurances over the funding for this infrastructure and over how Northern Irish Goods would access the UK without the need for checks – as agreed through the Northern Ireland Protocol which guarantees unfettered access.

The Scottish Government said that this has led to the decision to pause until they receive “greater clarity on the long term funding, the need for this infrastructure, and more information about the timescales when controls might come into effect.”

Commenting, Ms Harper said:

“Scotland, and indeed Dumfries and Galloway, did not vote to leave the EU. Despite this, we face a situation where we are being dragged out against our will and the reality of this is that there is now a trade border in the Irish Sea – between Scotland and our European neighbours.

“The UK Government must wake up to this. Until they do, the Scottish Government have made the right – and perhaps only – decision to pause work the Border Check Point until the Tory government provide the assurances we need.

“Any responsible Government would do as the Scottish Government have done – fulfil its obligation to create a Check Point to allow unfettered access for goods traveling between nations. However, it seems that the UK Government don’t see this as a priority.

“This is looking like it will be the next burroch in a long line of disasters caused by the Tories obsession Brexit and it could not be clearer that the sooner Scotland is given the opportunity to vote for a different future, the better. I will continue to pursue this issue and keep all constituents up to date as I do so.”