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Amendment 6

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Report (1st Day) – in the House of Lords at 6:00 pm on 20th January 2020.

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Photo of Lord Eames Lord Eames Crossbench 6:00 pm, 20th January 2020

My Lords, I added my name to that of the noble Baroness, who spoke so eloquently on this subject this afternoon, for one reason: throughout my professional life, I have come to value the core of Northern Ireland life through its business community. In many cases, those businesses were small. They are the heartbeat of the Northern Ireland community. Given the sensitivities of our situation both politically and economically—politically because of the sensitive nature of reaching the recent agreement, which we all welcome—and of our geographical position, having on our shore what is soon to become the border between the United Kingdom and the European Community, there is no better word than “sensitivity” to be adopted regarding the wording of the amendment.

During the lengthy debate in Committee, I coined the phrase “the reality of reassurance”. Behind what has already been said this afternoon, that remains the key reason why we make a strong plea to Her Majesty’s Government to take seriously not just the amendment’s wording and technicalities but the motive behind it: the reality of reassurance. No one can tell how this will develop once Brexit is a reality. The noble Baroness quoted the letter that came to us from right across the business community, which is united in making a plea for this reality of reassurance. At this stage, I simply say this: I realise the difficulties faced by the Minister and I accept the sincerity of his position, but I urge the Government to realise that there is a lot more to this amendment than simply technical phrases.