We need your support to keep TheyWorkForYou running and make sure people across the UK can continue to hold their elected representatives to account.

Donate to our crowdfunder

Business of the House

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:13 pm on 21st October 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anna Soubry Anna Soubry Leader of the Independent Group for Change 8:13 pm, 21st October 2019

Even I do not do interventions as long as that, Madam Deputy Speaker. I have just explained to the hon. Gentleman that this is not simply a change to the Northern Ireland protocol. [Interruption.] I will say it more gently: with respect, that is not the case. Yes, there is a change to the Northern Ireland protocol, but there are two other big changes. First, England, Scotland and Wales now find themselves without any customs union backstop. Secondly, in relation to our future relationship with the European Union, there were provisions in the political declaration and the withdrawal agreement that would have ensured as close a relationship with the EU in the future as possible, but those have been taken out. That is precisely the sort of amendment that hon. Members may want to make to the Bill, to put those things back into the agreement.

I will conclude by turning again to Northern Ireland. Nobody, especially a Conservative and Unionist, should be under any doubt about the profound changes that this deals makes to our United Kingdom. It does not just set up a border in the Irish sea; we have heard one example of the sort of regulatory changes and consequences it will have for businesses in Northern Ireland and those in the rest of the United Kingdom taking in their goods, and from Jim Shannon we heard of the real-life consequences for businesses and people in Northern Ireland.

Over the past three and a half years, I have had some connection with various people in Northern Ireland. Some of us have done radio and television programmes in that time—I did one such programme today—and I have had other experiences and people contacting me. There is real anger in Northern Ireland, and not just from the Unionist community; it is found right across Northern Ireland from people who now see that they are to be treated entirely differently from the rest of the United Kingdom. That cannot be right, and not only is it not right for Northern Ireland; the consequences in Scotland—here I fall out with my friends in the Scottish National party—will undoubtedly be profound, because their cause, which they champion so ably if not always successfully, will be enhanced. It is important therefore that amendments to the Bill, which has profound consequences for our Union, be made properly.