When Michael Gove told the House of Commons that Brexit will mean some new checks on goods being shipped from Great Britain to Northern Ireland it was both a predictable and a significant moment.
Predictable, because the government had conceded to checks on food and agricultural products in the Brexit deal which was sealed in October.
Significant, because in the intervening months ministers have at times appeared reluctant to accept what they had signed up to.
In the run up to Wednesday’s announcement government spokespeople were insisting “we have always been clear that there will be requirements for live animals and agri-food”.
It would take great generosity of spirit to accept there had been clarity on this point.
Reaction to Brexit plans on NI goods checks
A really simple guide to Brexit
In January, the prime minister was still giving “emphatic” assurances about unfettered trade in both directions across the Irish Sea, as reported in the Irish Times.
But now businesses which will have to trade across this new sea border have the beginnings of clarity, although they would like a lot more detail soon.
Unless the UK government asks for a time extension, the new processes for Irish Sea trade will need to be operational by 1 January.
“It’s an incredibly tight timeframe,” said Seamus Leheny from the Freight Transport Association.
“We’ve got less than 230 days until the protocol has got to be implemented and in that time we’ve got to find out exactly what forms and IT systems we’re going to have to use.
“The clock is ticking and everyone in the logistics industry needs these answers now.”