Leaving the EU: Free Trade Agreement

Oral Answers to Questions — Northern Ireland – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 20th December 2017.

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Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East 12:00 am, 20th December 2017

If his Department will provide the evidential basis that a free trade deal similar to the one that Canada negotiated with the EU will maintain the border on the island of Ireland under its current terms after the UK leaves the EU.

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

As the Prime Minister has made clear, we are seeking a bold and ambitious free trade agreement that is of greater scope and ambition than any existing agreement. We are determined to reach a deal that works for the people of Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole.

Photo of Kerry McCarthy Kerry McCarthy Labour, Bristol East

At the Select Committee on Environment, Food and Rural Affairs this morning, the Environment Secretary made it clear that the plus-plus-plus in a Canada plus-plus-plus agreement ought to include agri-foods, which is obviously really important to Northern Ireland. What steps is the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland taking to try to ensure that that is included in any future deal?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I agree with what the hon. Lady has said: agriculture is a key part of the economy within Northern Ireland. It is something that we highlighted very firmly in our August paper and will want to take forward in the phase 2 negotiations.

Photo of Kevin Foster Kevin Foster Conservative, Torbay

In assessing the evidence around a potential trade deal of this nature, did the Secretary of State conclude, as I have, that for decades we have successfully operated the common travel area between ourselves and Ireland and we will be able to do so under a similar deal, and that any hard border in Ireland will be the responsibility of Dublin and Brussels, not London and Belfast?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

We are pleased that the joint principles on the continuation of the common travel area after the UK leaves were very firmly highlighted in the joint report. I believe that there is that joint endeavour, and that is what we have been pursuing.

Photo of Gavin Robinson Gavin Robinson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Home Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Defence)

On the Canada-EU trade deal, Bombardier in my constituency is a company that greatly benefits from that trading relationship. Will the Secretary of State not only continue his support for Bombardier, but ensure that any future trade agreements do nothing that will injure such an important part of our local economy?

Photo of James Brokenshire James Brokenshire The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland

I agree with the hon. Gentleman’s comments about Bombardier and commend his work to highlight this important issue. Clearly the protection of the Northern Ireland economy and jobs will remain a focus of our attention.