Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis has said the country's empty shelves have nothing to do with Brexit.
Processed goods like jelly or gravy could be unavailable in Northern Ireland at the end of the protocol grace period, the party's Stormont agriculture minister Edwin Poots said (Niall Carson/PA).
Indeed, the so-called Northern Ireland protocol means it remains subject to EU Single Market rules and split off from the rest of the nation by an internal customs border, a matter of great concern in Ulster itself.
Since January 1, all movements of goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland require a customs declaration, with some products needing further certification too.
On Tuesday, Mr Lewis said shortages of some products in the weeks since the transition period ended were due to the knock-on effects of United Kingdom trade with continental Europe being temporarily halted pre-Christmas due to concerns over the new Covid variant. He told the Assembly on Tuesday: "Brandon Lewis is clearly going about like the emperor with no clothes; however, it is not a small boy who is pointing it out, but the entire crowd". We really do not need those barriers.
"We know what the problems are and where they emanate from, and we know that those issues need to be dealt with".
"I have to say supermarket supply lines at the moment are in good fettle".
He said the Brexit divorce deal agreed with the European Union by then-prime minister Theresa May would have caused less separation from Northern Ireland from the UK.
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"There was certainly a knock-on effect - the reality is that this new regime we have in relation to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland certainly has been a very hard adjustment".
Traders have faced a "challenging" period but are adapting to extra red tape created by the protocol, Mr Roberts added.
The poll, conducted using Savanta ComRes' MLAs panel, which runs twice a year, also finds that a third (34%) of MLAs agree that Brexit will harm the peace in Northern Ireland, although narrowly more MLAs (39%) disagree with that statement.
"Members have taken a very solution-based approach and independent retailers are probably, out of all the sectors - we are probably the most adaptable to change".
Smaller food traders have struggled to adapt to problems with multiple consignments travelling in one lorry, meaning loads have to be resealed and certified by officials several times.
A soft-touch three-month period has been negotiated with the European Union for regulating supermarket goods transported from the rest of the UK.
"Responding, Mr Lewis said: "(Sir Jeffrey) and I share a strong desire to ensure trade keeps flowing as smoothly as possible with unfettered access, as we promised, to Northern Ireland businesses - which we have delivered, but also to ensure that we've got that smooth flow for Great Britain into Northern Ireland as well.
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