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Exiting the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:45 pm on 10th December 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:45 pm, 10th December 2018

I say two things to my right hon. Friend. He is right that the EU has been clear, as we have, about ensuring there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. Actually, the EU has also been clear, as it is in the withdrawal agreement, about the temporary nature of the backstop. So he is right that we should go boldly back to the European Union on these issues. We have been rigorously and robustly debating with the EU on this, and achieved a number of changes to the withdrawal agreement in order to ensure that there could be that reassurance of the temporary nature of the backstop. However, it is now for me and this Government to go back to Europe, and to make the point that those assurances have not been sufficient for Members of this House. Nothing should be off the table, but everybody should be very clear that in calling for a reopening of the withdrawal agreement there are issues that would then be put back on the table, including the Northern Ireland-only customs territory.