European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:50 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:50 pm, 4th September 2019

There are two issues in relation to that point. First, the Prime Minister has concerns about the rule-taking element of the backstop, under which those in Northern Ireland will continue to take rules on which they will not have a say. Secondly, there is the concern that the element of consent from both parts of the community in Northern Ireland is undermined.

To address the hon. Lady’s earlier intervention in respect of contact with the Irish Government, the Prime Minister will discuss the issues around the alternative arrangements with the Taoiseach on Monday. That will build on considerable other interaction with the Irish Government—for example, I had a meeting with Simon Coveney in the Irish embassy in Paris last week, and the Foreign Secretary met him in the same week. There has been extensive contact with the Irish Government.

The Prime Minister’s EU sherpa is in Brussels today. The last round of technical talks was last week and he will have further talks on Wednesday to explore much of this detail. But the detail needs to be in place at the end of the implementation period, which is the end of 2020—or even potentially, by mutual agreement, at the end of a further one or two years. The timescale, therefore, is realistic and negotiable—