[5th Allotted Day]

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 3:21 pm on 9th January 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:21 pm, 9th January 2019

Let me take that point head on, because it is very important. Our party—both parties—played an important part in the peace process, and I genuinely think that there is a consensus, or a near-consensus, across the House on the importance of that agreement. We have been very proud of upholding it. Even in the course of these debates over the last two years, every time it has come up there has been a reiteration of the principles. I myself worked in Northern Ireland for five years, with the Policing Board, implementing some of the recommendations of the Good Friday agreement, and I therefore have first-hand knowledge of how both communities see it, what the impact was before change, and what it is now. However, I do not think it fair to characterise anyone who says that these two documents are not the right deal for our country as undermining the Good Friday agreement. That simply means that there can be no criticism, no issue, no challenge to the Government, which cannot be right.

In addition, I have stood at this Dispatch Box and moved amendment after amendment whose objective was a customs union and a single market deal, which I genuinely believe constitute the only way of securing no hard border in Northern Ireland. On every occasion, the Government voted those amendments down. To say at this stage that we have tried to do nothing to protect the position is simply not right. [Interruption.] I will come to the issue of the need for a backstop—I will tackle that issue—but I wanted to deal with the intervention.