European Union (Withdrawal) Bill - Report (5th Day)

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:30 pm on 2nd May 2018.

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Photo of Lord Trimble Lord Trimble Conservative 4:30 pm, 2nd May 2018

In the examples I mentioned, going back to 1985 and 1973, there was no consultation by Her Majesty’s Government with the unionist elected representatives. The Irish Government, of course, consulted closely with nationalists, so there was that imbalance. In any event, I come back to the amendment and I think that the proposed new clause has the wrong approach and should be looked at again.

I have one other point and it is simply this: we made the agreement 20 years ago; it was a bit rough at times for a short period afterwards but it has settled in. There are still some difficulties but I am quite sure that those difficulties will be overcome and these institutions will survive because they have the wholehearted endorsement of the people of Northern Ireland. In doing it, we also helped to change the relationship between Belfast and Dublin and, indeed, between Dublin and London to a certain extent as well: relations between them in recent years have been very good. They have been extremely good and I am delighted, but the behaviour at the moment of the Irish Prime Minister and Coveney, backed up by the European Union, is actually destroying that relationship and doing considerable damage to it. I know that we cannot directly affect that, but the message should go out very clearly to Dublin and to Brussels that they are not to continue to damage the basis of our institutions in pursuit of some petty objective, such as getting yourself elected as the head of a European body in Brussels.

That is where I want to stop. It is hugely important that the Government stand firm on this proposal to move to what is called the backstop and against a situation where Northern Ireland is to be moved away from the rest of the United Kingdom and permanently attached to Brussels, as far as these things are concerned. That is the wrong way to go.