Leaving the EU: Border

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 28th June 2017.

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Photo of Gareth Johnson Gareth Johnson Conservative, Dartford 12:00 am, 28th June 2017

What steps he is taking to ensure that there is no hard border with the Republic of Ireland after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister made clear in her letter to Donald Tusk that we want to avoid a return to a hard border—nobody wishes to return to the border of the old days— and to maintain the common travel area. That desire is shared with the Republic of Ireland and the European Union, and we shall work tirelessly to achieve it.

Photo of Gareth Johnson Gareth Johnson Conservative, Dartford

Northern Ireland is as much part of the United Kingdom as Dartford, but does the Minister agree that, given Northern Ireland’s unique situation, it is essential that there is a frictionless border between it and the Republic, without ever compromising the security of the whole of the United Kingdom?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

Yes, I do agree. We all want to see people and goods moving as freely as possible across the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, in the service of a strong economy for those who need it.

Photo of Ian Paisley Jnr Ian Paisley Jnr Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Energy and Climate Change), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Communities and Local Government), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Culture, Media and Sport)

Mindful of the worryingly high levels of radicalisation of people in the Republic of Ireland, what assurances can the Minister give DUP Members that the soft border that is important for trade will not become an unsafe border in terms of security?

Photo of Chloe Smith Chloe Smith Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), Assistant Whip (HM Treasury), Assistant Whip

I value the strong working relationship between this country and the Republic of Ireland, which will allow us to focus on the issue raised by the hon. Gentleman. We need to preserve the common travel area and to maintain tariff-free trade with Europe. [Hon. Members: “Hear, hear!”]