In my view, the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal with the European Union has always needed to be improved, not least because it has unsettled the delicate balance of identities across
the UK and Ireland.
However, it is important to find a sustainable way to fix these problems and I do not believe that unilateral action is the right way forward.
I believe that the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill should be judged against three simple questions:
- Firstly, will it resolve the situation in Northern Ireland?
- Secondly, is it in the best interests of the UK as a whole?
- Thirdly, is it compatible with our commitment to the rule of law?
I believe that the answer to each of these questions is a clear “no”. For these reasons I cannot support it.
Rather than embark on this confrontational course of action, which breaches the UK’s commitments under international law, it is time for Ministers to show responsibility to the
people of Northern Ireland, be honest about the consequences of the Brexit deal that the Prime Minister negotiated, and commit to working with the EU to make progress.
To give just one example, I believe that the Government should be seeking an agreement with the EU on common veterinary standards. This would deliver the long-term solutions
needed to prevent disruption and reduce the number of checks in the Irish Sea.
I am also extremely concerned about the Bill’s extensive use of so called ‘Henry VIII powers’ which would allow the Bill, if it becomes an Act, to be essentially re-written without
Unfortunately, this is now a pattern of behaviour from this Government; more power in the hands of the executive with less scrutiny from the legislature. Far from ‘restoring’ British Parliamentary sovereignty, as it promised, the Government has used Brexit to hoard power for itself.
I can assure you that I will continue to oppose this Bill and call on the Government to return to the negotiating table with the EU to find lasting solutions to lower tensions and improve the Northern Ireland Protocol.