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Brexit Readiness: Operation Yellowhammer

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 25th September 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 3:31 pm, 25th September 2019

I absolutely take my hon. Friend’s points. First, I think it has been the case that farmers’ unions across the UK—the Ulster Farmers’ Union, NFU Scotland, the Farmers’ Union of Wales and the NFU in England—have been clear that they would infinitely prefer a deal, as would I. As I had occasion to state earlier and will happily repeat again, the sector that is most vulnerable in the event of no deal is the agrifood sector, which is why we need to be conscious of its concerns.

With respect to Northern Ireland, I hope that nothing I have said suggests or implies that the Government take a lackadaisical approach. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Northern Ireland Secretary, Home Office Ministers and I have made regular trips to Northern Ireland, and are in contact with the Northern Ireland civil service. We are acutely aware of the difficulties that the Northern Ireland civil service would be in under a no-deal situation if the Assembly were not restored. I would also say that we need—and I hope we can get—greater clarity about what might happen on the other side of the Irish border, but that is a sovereign matter for the EU and the Irish Government. I do not make any criticism of them, but obviously it would be in all our interests if we were able to work to mitigate the impacts in the event of no deal.