EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2:52 pm, 4th June 2020

I am grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making that point. The protocol is part of the withdrawal agreement, but it makes it clear that Northern Ireland is part of the UK customs territory. Also, in the Command Paper that we published recently—which was broadly welcomed, albeit with caveats by political parties, businesses and citizens across Northern Ireland—we made it clear that we would not impose additional physical customs infrastructure and that we would do everything we could to ensure that the Good Friday agreement was upheld in its essentials, and that means that the citizens and the businesses of Northern Ireland should continue to enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the United Kingdom’s internal market, its customs territory and its nation overall.

In these negotiations, there will inevitably be commentary, in the form of shots fired from outside and attempts by some who do not have an interest in us reaching an agreement, to suggest that an agreement is impossible, and certainly impossible within the time allowed. However, there is ample time for us to reach an agreement. The detailed work that has been undertaken by both sides should not be set aside or diminished. All that is required is political will, imagination and flexibility, and I believe that with the advent of the German presidency of the European Union on 1 July, we will see the leadership required to guarantee that we secure the agreement that we need.