EU VAT area and pre-commencement requirements

Part of Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 16th July 2018.

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Photo of Laurence Robertson Laurence Robertson Conservative, Tewkesbury 7:00 pm, 16th July 2018

I rise to speak to new clause 37, which is in my name and those of my hon and right hon. Friends. I will press the new clause at the appropriate time. It would make it

“unlawful for Her Majesty’s Government to enter into arrangements under which Northern Ireland forms part of a separate customs territory to Great Britain.”

The purpose is simple: it is to secure the future of the United Kingdom. I speak as a proud Unionist and a friend of Northern Ireland. I have had the honour of working closely with people across Northern Ireland, having been Chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee for seven years and, before that, a shadow Northern Ireland Minister for five years. Interestingly, I also co-chaired the British-Irish Parliamentary Assembly for some five years. We have a lot to fight for in Northern Ireland.

This new clause would provide a guarantee that shows we value the Union and recognise the importance of strengthening it, but also acknowledge the importance and the value of our most important trading arrangement, the UK internal market. Above all, it would contribute to upholding the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom and safeguard the Union for the future.

New clause 37 reinforces a view that I am confident is shared on both sides of the House, which is that we cannot accept a deal that would allow Northern Ireland to be considered a separate customs territory from Great Britain. I recognise that this is the view the Prime Minister has put at the forefront of our negotiations.