Customs is a matter for phase 2 of the withdrawal negotiations with the EU. The Government are committed to ensuring that the border remains open with no physical infrastructure, as set out in the joint report agreed with the EU on
When even the Government accept that their proposals for a frictionless border are untested and go beyond existing precedents, we can see why businesses read that as undeliverable, unless ongoing membership of the single market and customs union are involved. Given that the Minister insists that such membership is not necessary, will he tell us what progress has been made in exploring and designing alternative solutions?
The joint report highlights the progress that has been made. It sets out the framework that will take us into phase 2, with customs and other arrangements to ensure that there is no physical infrastructure on the border and to see that open trading relationship.
The Exiting the European Union Committee visited Northern Ireland a few weeks ago, and everyone we spoke to was very anxious to press on us the fact that any change at all to the status of the Irish border would be seen as a backward step. Does the Secretary of State agree that the reddest of all red lines in the Brexit negotiations must be the maintenance of the integrity of the Good Friday agreement and the peace process that depends on it?
I do agree in terms of the maintenance of the Good Friday agreement—the Belfast agreement—and, very firmly, in terms of not seeing any hard border re-emerging, and that is what has been reflected in the joint report.
I think we should hear from the former Chair of the Select Committee. The final inquiry in this section today—Mr Laurence Robertson.