Beyond Brexit (European Union Committee Report) - Motion to Consider

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 5:54 pm on 12th May 2020.

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Photo of Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Baroness Ritchie of Downpatrick Non-affiliated 5:54 pm, 12th May 2020

My Lords, I welcome the report and the references to the need for the EU and the UK to establish effective channels of communication and co-operation, plus the need to respect the Good Friday agreement in order not to weaken the confidence of unionist and nationalist communities in the political process. Unfortunately, I am afraid to say that the UK Government are not engaging properly with the EU, and with the pragmatic intent that the noble Lord, Lord Kirkhope, talked about, to resolve issues and to ensure, in the particular area where I live, the full implementation of the Ireland-Northern Ireland protocol.

Let me give two examples to show how the Government have not negotiated properly, with true intent. First, there is the issue of the transition: to obtain that good, effective deal, the transition period needs to be extended by two years, during this period of the pandemic. Secondly, the UK has refused to allow the EU to have a technical office in Belfast for the implementation of the protocol, to allow proper procedures to be put in place to deal with those customs arrangements at the ports and to provide unfettered access for business. Because of the shortness of time, I ask the Minister to address both those issues and to work with colleagues to ensure that that respect, pragmatism and level of co-operation return to the negotiations, to achieve an effective deal.