European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 1:42 pm on 5th September 2019.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Lord Patten of Barnes Lord Patten of Barnes Conservative 1:42 pm, 5th September 2019

My noble friend knows perfectly well that under WTO rules, and for other reasons as well, if the Republic of Ireland is in a separate customs union from Great Britain, there has to be a border. It is a WTO rule. There is a border and traffic is stopped there.

There is a point that resonates even more than the economic argument, which is the question of security. I am sorry to personalise this, but a lot of our knowledge—and our prejudices, perhaps—in politics come from our personal experiences. The first time I saw dead bodies, apart from those of my parents, was near the Newry customs post in Northern Ireland, where I saw part of a leg on top of a rhododendron bush. We know perfectly well that if we do not get this right, there is a danger of people being killed—not just of businesses being destroyed or communities being devastated, but of people dying. If people do not believe that, they should read what is said again and again by the Police Service of Northern Ireland and the Garda Síochána.

These are terribly important issues and I just hope that we will bear in mind these facts, as well as the questions of economics and trade, when we are determining the relationships between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland and between the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, which many people still seem to treat as though we have viceregal authority over it. These are great friends of ours and we should treat them rather better than we do.