Northern Ireland Protocol

Published date : 21 July, 2021
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement.

Let us not lose sight of the fact that a protocol setting the terms of trade has only been made necessary because of an EU withdrawal agreement that the Prime Minister—irrespective of its entirely foreseeable impact on Northern Ireland—defined the parameters of himself and then signed up to freely. Everybody knows that article 16 exists, but the continued threats from the UK Government to deploy it have worn so thin as to be utterly transparent in every sense, and can be doing little to help increase the trust and confidence necessary for the Government to achieve their stated objectives.

Let us also be clear that if we move from the current agreement, there will have to be another put in place that is likely to differ in substance, to use a phrase, only in limited and specific ways from that which it will be replacing. If the UK Government wish to return to the freest possible conditions for the movement of goods between GB and Northern Ireland, consistent with their international obligations, they could sign up right now to a dynamic deal on food and animal welfare standards.

A pragmatic renegotiation of the protocol in the light of experience, and in the light of everything that has come from the nature of Brexit, would clearly be desirable in order to remove not just the barriers that exist but also the symbolism that these trade frictions are causing that are being felt so keenly in Northern Ireland at the present moment. In that regard, will the Secretary of State ensure that the Government, in contrast to their approach to Brexit to date, set the tone of all their discussions with the EU in good faith around the negotiating table, rather than through the pages of The Telegraph or the tabloids, and at all times in a manner that builds, rather than undermines, the trust necessary to be able to secure a better deal for the people of Northern Ireland?

Back to All Parliament