Northern Ireland Border - Statement

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 7:11 pm on 28th February 2018.

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Photo of Lord Trimble Lord Trimble Conservative 7:11 pm, 28th February 2018

My Lords, reference has been made to the need to preserve the Belfast agreement, with which I am wholly in agreement. However, I draw noble Lords’ attention to the December paper, which made reference to regulatory alignment but did so in the context of cross-border arrangements under the Belfast agreement. That is the only part of the Belfast agreement relevant to this discussion: namely, the cross-border co-operation that exists and through which there is a good case for saying that there has to be regulatory alignment for a body that is operating on both sides of the border.

What is happening now is something quite different. Those minor provisions in the December paper have been exaggerated into something that, in effect, would mean that Northern Ireland was still in the European Union, and thus left behind as Britain moves out of it. That runs contrary to and undermines the main plank of the Belfast agreement: that arrangements and constitutional matters were to be based on consent. The papers that have come forward—I hope that the Minister agrees on this—deal with issues that are moving into constitutional areas and should, if Dublin and Brussels wish to push the matter further, invoke an endorsement in a referendum. But we are not and should not be in that territory, and I hope that the Government will stand firm on this matter.