Five months after the UK cut ties with the European Union, the post-Brexit “protocol” governing Northern Irish trade is sowing discontent in the province. “Traditionally a box of seeds would take us four days to get from England to Northern Ireland,” said Robin Mercer, owner of Hillmount Garden Centre in Belfast. “It’s taking four weeks now because of the paperwork involved,” he told AFP. “And it costs £140 ($200) for a box of seeds whether there’s £400 (worth) in the box or £600.” Britain officially left the EU in January 2020, but under the terms of the divorce, relations remained unchanged until the start of 2021. Since then, London and Brussels have been trading on new terms, effectively keeping Northern Ireland in the EU customs union and single market for goods. The tailored arrangements are designed to sustain Northern Ireland’s fragile peace but for Mercer — who operates three garden centres east of Belfast — it has undermined business. “The protocol, it needs to be abolished,” he said.