Article 50

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:39 pm on 24th January 2017.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 12:39 pm, 24th January 2017

With respect to the hon. Gentleman’s first point, it is notable that whilst there was an 8:3 judgment on the rest of the issue, the Court was unanimous on not allowing the Northern Ireland Executive a veto. In terms of maintaining, not so much a relationship but an understanding of the issues that relate to Northern Ireland, last week when we had a Joint Ministerial Committee I wrote to the Northern Ireland Executive to ask them to continue to send Ministers to represent the interests of Northern Ireland. Although the First Minister and Deputy First Minister disappear, as it were, in the interim, Ministers stay in post, just as in any other Administration. Last week, they did turn up, and I will continue to extend an invitation to that end. If that does not work, we will find some other bilateral way to proceed. The hon. Gentleman must take it as read: I view it as near the top of my priorities, if not actually my top priority, to preserve the situation in Northern Ireland, to preserve the border in its current state without hardening it, and to preserve the interests of the Northern Irish people.