United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:02 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Jeffrey M. Donaldson Jeffrey M. Donaldson DUP Chief Whip, Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business in the House of Commons) 8:02 pm, 14th September 2020

At the heart of the Belfast/Good Friday agreement is the principle that every signatory to that agreement accepts that Northern Ireland remains an integral part of this United Kingdom. Sadly, what the EU proposes breaches that core principle of the agreement. It is that breach that threatens the stability of Northern Ireland, because peace and prosperity go hand in hand. What kind of peace is it in Northern Ireland if we do not have prosperity—if our businesses are failing because of the added burden that the EU wants to impose? How does that bring prosperity, stability and peace to Northern Ireland?

The Bill is fundamental to delivering what we need, but we need even more than this. That is why we will seek to amend the Bill, specifically to address the point my hon. Friend Jim Shannon made about state aid. It is not enough just to address the state aid issue in the context of Great Britain; it must also be addressed in respect of Northern Ireland. The UK must set the rules on state aid in Northern Ireland, not the European Union. Such a tool is vital to help Northern Ireland businesses fend off predatory behaviour from our nearest competitors, and in Northern Ireland our nearest competitors are in the European Union.

I welcome the progress that is marked by this Bill in dealing with export declarations on goods moving from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, but 65% of the goods that Northern Ireland purchases come from Great Britain. Therefore, we need the Government to go further and guarantee that we will not have export declarations on goods moving from one part of the United Kingdom to another part of the United Kingdom, be that from Great Britain to Northern Ireland or from Northern Ireland to Great Britain. That is what unfettered access actually means, and the European Union signed up to unfettered access and to the United Kingdom Government having the power to ensure that Northern Ireland has unfettered access. The Bill before us will deliver that, subject of course to some amendments that we would like to make.

In conclusion, as someone who represents a Northern Ireland constituency, I do not accept the contention that the Bill threatens the Belfast or Good Friday agreement. I do not accept the contention that the Bill threatens the peace process. Prosperity is essential to building peace in Northern Ireland. The arrangements proposed by the EU threaten the prosperity of Northern Ireland, and in threatening the prosperity of Northern Ireland they threaten the peace.