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Brexit - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 10:49 am on 19th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Baker of Dorking Lord Baker of Dorking Conservative 10:49 am, 19th October 2019

There is no border on land and the border on the sea is largely a filter, because most of the trade between Britain and Northern Ireland in the future will be frictionless, as it is today. The other great advantage of the deal is that it gives Northern Ireland a unique position, with a foot in both camps: one in Europe and one in our own country. This is an enormous opportunity for expansion in all sorts of ways. For example, if you were a great entrepreneur you would register a fishing boat in Northern Ireland today, because the expansion of the Northern Ireland fishing industry will be absolutely enormous.

As we all know, in a matter of two or three hours the destiny of the United Kingdom will be determined in the other House. I find it very strange that that may depend upon the votes of 10 DUP Members, members of a minority party in the United Kingdom. If they vote against the package today, it will have grave consequences for our relationship with Ulster. I will put it this way: for a start, the 17 million people who voted for leave will ask the DUP and Ulster difficult questions, emphasising their dependency on this country. Is it not true that their security depends entirely on the United Kingdom? Is it not true that their financial viability depends entirely upon the United Kingdom, and that all of business and industry in Northern Ireland favour this deal? This will bring to a head the position of Ulster in the UK—as a result of their voting.

We know, of course, that Ulster has been very loyal to Britain in times of trouble. We remember the Ulstermen who died in the First World War and the Second World War. But today, we are also in the time of trouble. There is absolutely no doubt about it and I hope very much that the Ulstermen—the DUP—will realise that they should in fact support the Government. If they do not do that, the long love affair between the Tory party and Ulster will be fractured and broken, possibly for ever, because it will be seen that although the DUP voted leave, its members did not, when it came to it, support leave. That will have a grave consequence for the relationship with the DUP, but an even graver consequence for Ulster. This is a deal that is of great advantage to Ulster: there is absolutely no doubt about that. I therefore hope that the other House will be able to support it, and that we will be able to pass the Bill in reasonably good time in this House.