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Brexit - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:25 pm on 19th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 3:25 pm, 19th October 2019

I think it best if we have a conversation outside the Chamber on which different documents my noble friend is referring to.

For more than three years, this House has examined Brexit in great detail, as correctly observed by the noble and learned Lord, Lord Judge, in his excellent speech. I pay tribute to the work of noble Lords and the many committees of this House which have looked at the EU withdrawal process. I will do my best to address as many of the points raised today as possible.

The deal before us today is a deal which ensures that we take back control. Along with my noble friends Lord Baker and Lord Howard, and the noble Earl, Lord Listowel, I commend my right honourable friend the Prime Minister on securing it. This is a good deal. It ensures that we take back control of our laws, our borders, our money, farming and fishing policies and trade without disruption. It also provides the basis of a new relationship with the EU, based on free trade and friendly co-operation. I completely agree with my noble friends Lord Shinkwin, Lord Caithness, Lady Pidding and Lady Noakes that we now need certainty and no delay. As the good people of Northampton told my noble friend Lord Naseby, we should get on with it.

My noble friend Lady Harding was completely correct when she said that leadership is about making decisions and getting things done. As my noble friend Lord Mancroft also correctly highlighted, this is the deal that many said was not possible nor desired. Indeed, the noble Baroness, Lady Hayter, told us only last week,

“there is no desire for a deal. It is all a ruse”.—[Official Report, 08/10/19; col. 2009.]

Yet here we are with a deal, only 87 days after the Prime Minister took office.

Many noble Lords, including the noble Lords, Lord Newby, and my noble friend Lord Howell, spoke about what this deal means for the island of Ireland. The old deal was rejected because it tied us to a divisive and undemocratic backstop; indeed, in the many debates we have had I recall that many noble Lords’ criticisms of it centred precisely on those issues. That backstop, included in the previous Ireland-Northern Ireland protocol, kept the whole of the United Kingdom in a single customs territory with the EU. This would have required the UK to continue to align with EU tariff rates, therefore the UK would not have had a fully independent trade policy. This would have prevented us securing new trade deals with the rest of the world. The new deal abolishes the backstop entirely.

The provisions in the new protocol ensure that an open border is maintained on the island of Ireland and, most importantly, it upholds the Belfast agreement. Northern Ireland will have access to the single market but also be part of new UK trade deals, which we intend to negotiate around the world. Crucially, these arrangements will be dependent on the consent of those affected by it: the people of Northern Ireland themselves. In our view, this is essential to the acceptability of arrangements under which part of the UK accepts the rules of a different market.