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Parliamentary sovereignty

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:30 pm on 8th January 2020.

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Photo of Stephen Farry Stephen Farry Alliance, North Down 4:30 pm, 8th January 2020

I am always grateful to hear comments from my counterpart in Northern Ireland, but I think it is worth stressing for the record that there is no significant movement or debate whatsoever in the Republic of Ireland about any form of “Irexit”, as it might be framed. There is deep commitment to membership of the European Union in the south of Ireland, as indeed there is, on a majority basis, in Northern Ireland and in Scotland and other parts of the UK as well.

While Ireland will make its decision to remain part of the European Union, it is of course the UK that is diverging. That debate has been had, and I recognise the outcome in that respect. None the less, it is important to recognise that Northern Ireland is a complex society, and it only works on the basis of sharing and interdependence. A very careful set of balanced relationships has been built up over the past number of years, with the support of those on both Front Benches in this House over that period. Brexit does potentially strip away some of the sticking-plaster over some of the cracks and we do not know exactly how things will work out. It is important that the Government pay regard to, and are sensitive to, the very particular implications in rights terms for Northern Ireland as the Brexit process unfolds.