Brexit and Foreign Affairs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:27 pm on 26th June 2017.

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Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport) 9:27 pm, 26th June 2017

When the Foreign Secretary makes his concluding remarks, I hope he will make it clear that the discussions are not going to be contingent on what the devolved Assemblies do. He will certainly take their view, but they will have no veto over the will of the British people across the entirety of the United Kingdom.

A lot has been said in this debate about the relationship between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland, and in the next three or so minutes I want to focus my comments on the Republic. It stands to lose most out of Brexit—not Northern Ireland, as some in this debate have tried to imply. I agree that we must have a frictionless border, which is good for Northern Irish trade, but the border must not become the weak link in security terms. We must not sacrifice the security of any of the peoples of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland —or, for that matter, the people of the Republic of Ireland —for an open border that does not protect our people.

Last week, I informed the House that security analysts had made it clear that levels of radicalisation are worryingly high in the Republic of Ireland. If that is the case, let us face up to it and address the matter. The five issues that President Tusk and Monsieur Barnier wish to agree with Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland—a unique relationship between our two countries; the avoidance of a hard border; keeping the common travel area in place; no harm to the Republic’s trading relationship with the United Kingdom; and the maintenance of the peace between our two nations—are almost exclusively within the gift of Monsieur Barnier. The House should recognise that. He can do more to ensure that those five things are maintained than anyone else in the discussion. I urge the Republic of Ireland, therefore, to take the same position as the United Kingdom because it cannot afford to remain uncritical of the EU. The EU should not blackmail the Republic of Ireland, as it should not be allowed to blackmail Northern Ireland.

The director of social policy at Trinity College Dublin said in a letter to the leader of the Democratic Unionist party:

“If the Government of the Republic of Ireland is so foolish as to seek to stay in the EU when Northern Ireland and Britain leave, it is the Republic, not the UK, that will be putting the Common Anglo-Irish Travel and Trade Area at risk.”

Those are very important comments because the onus is actually on the Republic of Ireland to address its problems with Europe. It is not for Northern Ireland to address those issues. Since 2014, the Republic of Ireland has been paying €1.7 billion to be a member of the EU.