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 Duncan of Springbank Lord Duncan of Springbank Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Northern Ireland Office), The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Scotland 7:11 pm, 28th February 2018

I thank my noble friend Lord Trimble for his intervention. He is absolutely right to draw attention to the components of the joint report that emerged in December of last year. As we have stressed, the Belfast agreement must remain at the heart of our agreement. The challenge we face is that the publication by the European Union today and the remarks of Michel Barnier are, one might argue, unhelpful in that regard because they are a cherry picking of the joint report. One element of that report has been selected but there were three component parts, labelled a, b and c. The European Union has chosen to latch on only to part c. The point is that each must be a component part of the ongoing negotiations and any attempt to cherry pick risks undermining the Belfast agreement, which is at the heart of the positions accepted by the United Kingdom Government, the Irish Government and, indeed, the EU itself. I thank my noble friend for using the word “consent”. Consent must be at the heart of the approach to this, otherwise we run the risk of unravelling the very agreement which has done so much to bring stability to Northern Ireland.