EU Exit Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:42 am on 15th November 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 10:42 am, 15th November 2018

I will respond to the right hon. Gentleman. He is right that he and I have had many discussions on this issue, and I hope that we will continue to be able to have many discussions on this issue. We have ensured throughout the negotiations that the border in Northern Ireland has been one of the key issues that we have been addressing.

The right hon. Gentleman refers to the commitments I made in terms of Northern Ireland and the future relationship. Those commitments remain absolutely. We are looking to ensure that we have the frictionless trade across borders that will enable us to not only deliver on our commitment for Northern Ireland, but ensure that we have frictionless trade between the United Kingdom and the whole of the rest of the European Union. Many aspects of the deal that we have agreed actually ensure that we are preserving the integrity of the United Kingdom.

There has been significant focus on the question of the backstop. As I say, the backstop is something that neither side—neither the United Kingdom, nor the European Union—wishes to ever see being exercised. Indeed, as I have said, in circumstances where there needs to be a period before the future relationship is introduced, there are alternative routes that can be taken.

If the right hon. Gentleman says to me that he is concerned that we have not considered Northern Ireland throughout this process—