European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:40 am on 20th December 2019.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 9:40 am, 20th December 2019

Of course, I understand the point that the hon. Gentleman raises, but let me remind him that the deal commits to unfettered access, but in all parts of the UK. It respects the territorial integrity of the UK, and it ensures that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory and would therefore benefit immediately from any of our new free trade deals as soon as they are in force.

Let me remind the House that the special provisions applying to Northern Ireland, which ensure a very important thing—that there is no hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland—are subject to the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly. Unless the Assembly specifically withholds its consent, and unless it insists on continuing with this approach, then those arrangements would automatically lapse into full alignment with the rest of the UK. I believe that these arrangements serve the interests of Northern Ireland and the UK as a whole. It is a great deal for our whole country.