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European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:24 pm on 22nd October 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 1:24 pm, 22nd October 2019

I will respond by just repeating the point that those arrangements are automatically terminated after four years unless a majority in the Northern Ireland Assembly expressly decide to retain any or all of them, so those arrangements naturally and legally dissolve into full alignment with the whole of the UK. The default position is alignment with the UK unless, as I say, there is a majority vote in the Assembly against that alignment. In any event, those arrangements can be replaced by the future relationship based on the free trade agreement that we will conclude with the EU.

At the same time, the agreement ensures that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and benefits immediately from any UK trade deals. Clause 21 gives effect to those measures in the protocol. Apart from those special provisions, there are no level playing field provisions covering only Northern Ireland. Nothing in the new deal requires different treatment of Northern Irish services, which account for over 70% of the economy, and nothing in the revised political declaration would oblige Northern Ireland to be treated differently in the future relationship with the EU, which we will soon begin to negotiate.