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The situation is changing; that is why we need to agree new arrangements. We are leaving the European Union, the customs union and the single market, so clearly the arrangements will not be able to stay exactly as they are at the moment when we are part of those institutions. These proposals will allow us to move forward and focus on the positive future relationship that I believe is in all of our interests.
I have enormous respect for the noble Lord, Lord Empey, as he knows; he always makes insightful contributions in this House. He raised some important questions that I want to answer. We recognise that, for reasons of geography and economics, some things such as agri-food are increasingly managed on a common basis across the island of Ireland. Regulatory checks already take place on some goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. While the proposals would see an increase in some of these, there would be no need for traders to submit customs declarations and we would go ahead only with the consent of the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly. In light of this progress, we must take the route suggested by my noble friend Lord Howell of Guildford and choose to continue to work together in a positive spirit. In that way, we will ensure the best possible outcome for the UK, so that we deliver on the instructions given to us by the British people.
The noble and learned Lord, Lord Goldsmith, the noble Lord, Lord Marks, and the noble Viscount, Lord Chandos, asked about the Benn Act. The noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, the noble Lord, Lord Wallace of Saltaire, and my noble friend Lord Trenchard referred to it as the “surrender Act”.