Northern Ireland Border

Published date : 03 February, 2022
I thank the Secretary of State for advance sight of his statement. Let us be clear why we are discussing this issue: because the current occupant of the most notorious party flat in central London has persistently and simultaneously promised contradictory outcomes in respect of border arrangements between GB and the single market, in the hope that others might eventually develop the same kind of casual attachment that he clearly has to the arrangements into which he enters.

Although, by contrast with the economy of GB alone, the economy of Northern Ireland prospers with its dual membership of the UK single market and the European single market, that clearly comes at some cost to east-west trade frictions and, of course, all the political symbolism that entails. Of course, we could legitimately, lawfully and immediately eliminate the problems of sanitary and phytosanitary checks by entering into a direct agreement with the European Union on these matters, which would be hugely beneficial to all parts of the UK. On television last night, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland appeared to try to subcontract responsibility for complying with these aspects of international law in respect of the current protocol solely to the Northern Ireland Executive, and this statement does much the same.

What will the UK Government do to ensure that the UK continues to adhere to its international obligations under the protocol, into which they entered freely? In the Secretary of State’s understanding, from which legal authority should civil servants and, indeed, Ministers of the Crown in Northern Ireland take advice on how to act?

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