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Checks on Goods: Northern Ireland and Great Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:39 am on 24th October 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 10:39 am, 24th October 2019

On 17 October, the United Kingdom and the European Union reached political agreement on a new withdrawal agreement and political declaration for the future relationship. That includes a revised protocol for Northern Ireland, which has been extensively debated in this House. The agreement is clear that Great Britain and Northern Ireland are one customs territory. Goods that are not at risk of moving to the European Union will attract no tariffs. These arrangements mean that Northern Ireland would remain in the UK’s customs territory and could benefit from the UK’s new trade deals with third countries. Goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland that are destined for the European Union will have to comply with European Union rules. To ensure that the correct tariffs are applied and that goods comply with the rules of the single regulatory zone, some information will be needed on goods moving from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The deal also explicitly allows the United Kingdom to ensure unfettered market access for goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. There will be minimal targeted interventions designed to prevent, for example, trade in endangered species, which I would have thought the House would agree on. We will work with the European Union to eliminate those limited processes as soon as possible after Brexit. The most important point is that the arrangements automatically dissolve after four years unless a majority of the Northern Ireland Assembly in Stormont votes to keep them.