EU is warned that “the world is watching” its behaviour towards the United Kingdom
Macron doctrine of “Nothing is negotiable, everything is applicable” is derided as “a kind of blindness”
Yesterday in the House of Commons a motion was debated on the Northern Ireland Protocol, proposed by Sir Bernard Jenkin MP and supported by many senior MPs on the Conservative and DUP benches. At 3.13 pm the Deputy Speaker declared the motion “resolved” (agreed).
“We will not have long to wait” for action on N.I. Protocol
Government accepts this is “the overwhelming mood of this House”, supports backbench motion
In emphatic tones — at times almost combative — Government Minister Penny Mordaunt replied for the Government, supporting the motion and promising “colleagues will not have long to wait”.
Earlier in the House of Lords, Lord Frost spoke to the Ireland/Northern Ireland Sub-Committee, saying:
“I think it’s fair to say there are probably 20 or more different strands to the outstanding problems. Some of them are quite fundamental.
There’s quite a long list of those and I think it’s fair to say we haven’t made the progress we would really like to in moving any of those forward.”
Next week Lord Frost is scheduled to be setting out his plans to Parliament for dealing with the EU on the N.I. Protocol.
What MPs said yesterday
Sir Bernard Jenkin MP
“I invite all those who have almost signed up to what I call the Macron doctrine, after he said at the G7 summit that nothing was negotiable and everything was applicable — this attitude of “You’ve signed it, so you’re stuck with it,” whether or not that is good for the British people or the Northern Ireland peace process — to consider that that is a kind of blindness that we really have to drop.”
“… The EU will not win respect around the world for adopting a head in the sand approach to this, and we will not shoehorn the whole of the United Kingdom back into the single market to resolve these problems, because that is not what the British people voted for…. Everyone has to accept that the protocol is bad for the peace process in Northern Ireland, and it must change or be changed
Rt Hon Sir Jeffrey M. Donaldson MP (leader of the DUP)
“For people in Northern Ireland, the political and economic stakes could not be higher, as the protocol presents the greatest ever threat to the economic integrity of the United Kingdom. The rigorous implementation of the protocol that some anti-Brexit parties in Northern Ireland have called for would be bad for consumers and bad for business. It would be socially disruptive, economically ruinous and politically disastrous for Northern Ireland. As Lord Frost has repeatedly pointed out, the Northern Ireland protocol in its present form is unsustainable, and it needs to go.”
Simon Hoare MP, [Remainer], Chairman of the Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs
“I am not here to act as an apologist for the EU but…” “We should be nicer to the EU”]
Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP (former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland)
“Businesses are having trouble getting materials. Basic products are not available in the shops: not just food but simple gardening equipment and other elements of everyday life. My concern is that that sense of bewilderment is turning to anger. That is justified because the people of Northern Ireland are in a different constitutional place owing to the protocol.”
“… The border was always massively exaggerated. There were always other solutions and certainly better solutions than those we have in the protocol.”
“The permanent secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs in Northern Ireland said to the Stormont Committee for Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs that Northern Ireland’s population “is under half a per cent of that across the European Union, yet the documentary checks… represent one-fifth of the equivalent documentation right across the EU.”
“A couple of days ago, Lord Frost of Allenton, who has manfully tried to make the protocol work, reported to the House of Lords that 800 new pieces of legislation have been dumped on Northern Ireland from the EU.”
Ian Paisley MP (DUP)
“Daily, I am horrified whenever parcels arrive from GB to my constituents in Northern Ireland with a label on saying “Northern Ireland” and “foreign parcel”. Coming from post offices in GB to my constituents, this is reminding them day and daily that they are receiving foreign goods in their own country when they are not.”
Rt Hon Sir Iain Duncan Smith MP
“As [Lord Trimble] says, not only does the protocol “shatter Northern Ireland’s constitutional relationship with the UK,” as has been referred to, but it subverts the very agreement that they keep on saying that they want to preserve: the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. It is breaking that agreement and directly setting one part of the community against the other because of the way in which it is implemented and because of its very nature. The protocol simply cannot stand.”
“It is worth reminding those who keep saying, “Well, you all voted for this,” that we voted for it because we knew it was not permanent. That was made clear in every single article: article 184 of the withdrawal agreement, article 13 of the protocol and, importantly, paragraph 35 of the political declaration, which envisages an agreement superseding the protocol with alternative arrangements. The idea that this is somehow set in stone and we only have to work to make it better is an absurdity in itself.”
Mark Francois MP (Chairman of the ERG)
“It should be remembered that the European Commission, not the UK Government, invoked article 16 on the evening of 29 January 2021. If the rumours were to be believed, Dublin was not even consulted about this action. Dublin found out from London, not from Brussels. The supreme irony is that, in doing so, the European Commission, which took the decision, effectively sought to create a hard border on the island of Ireland for medicines and, crucially, vaccines, despite having sworn blind for three years, during what I describe as the battle for Brexit in this House, that that was absolutely the last thing that they ever wanted to do.”
Rt Hon David Jones MP (former Brexit Minister)
“What is absolutely certain is that we simply cannot continue like this. For the good of Northern Ireland, for the maintenance of the Belfast agreement and for the integrity of the Union, this issue must be resolved, and if the EU continues to refuse to co-operate then the only course remaining to the Government is to invoke article 16, and that is what I strongly urge them to do.”
Rt Hon Sir John Redwood MP (former Minister for the Single Market)
“As long ago as 2016, the British people voted to take back control. We voted to re-establish our sovereignty. The last Parliament sought to subvert and undermine that view, so in 2019, given the opportunity, the British public voted again, by a substantial margin, to take back control. They elected, with a decent majority, a Government of a party pledged to do just that, and this Government moved with speed and purpose to take back control. Unfortunately, we still need to debate this matter today because of the conduct of the European Union.”
“, but not surprised, by the conduct of the European Union. There is a long history of the European Union antagonising neighbours and potentially friendly states and attempting to use distorted, twisted or simply wrong legal arguments to force things in its own direction against the interests of its neighbours.”
“I say to the Government: do not delay over the whole of this summer. Take action now. The trade is being diverted now. The community sentiments are being disrupted now. The peace agreement is being wobbled now. The sovereignty of the United Kingdom is being deeply infringed now. There is plenty of evidence for that, and a good case can be made in the court of world opinion for those who are interested.”
Reply from the Government: Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Paymaster General
“The trade and co-operation agreement said that any measures to protect the integrity of the EU’s single market should be pragmatic and risk-based.
“Those principles and provisions are not being reflected in practice. Members have raised the issues this afternoon: Northern Ireland officials processing 20% of the EU’s total checks and controls on consignments from third countries of products of animal origin for a population of 0.5% of the EU’s; critical medicines at risk of being discontinued; companies who have given up delivering; unique disadvantages for Northern Ireland in facing little access to UK or EU tariff rate quotas for certain important products; long-standing trade flow being disrupted and firms struggling to cope with increased bureaucracy and costs, despite facilitation and grace periods; and the absurd prospect of a ban on chilled meats moving within the UK.
“How is that situation compatible with those shared principles of ambition and pragmatism to promote prosperity and peace? How were the commitments that the EU made in 2017 and 2019 to specific solutions and alternative arrangements, and that the protocol could be superseded, compatible with the refusal to replace the Northern Ireland protocol or engage on alternative arrangements? How is this compatible with those principles in granting extension periods only the day before, or not extending the trusted trader scheme, or not focusing on goods at risk, or insisting that the only way to reduce burdens on the movement of food products is for us to accept EU law outright on SPS despite, as my hon. Friend has said, our putting an ambitious veterinary agreement on the table based on our respective high standards?”
“……The Government are ready to do that, and colleagues will not have long to wait. My hon. Friend the Member for Harwich and North Essex, who opened the debate, and all Members who have spoken, have done a service by demonstrating that support for such an ambition is the overwhelming mood of this House.”
Remember those days before Covid when we were all fighting other battles?
Do you remember the days before Covid-19? The days when the news was dominated by one subject that had nothing to do with doctors, scientists, or amorous mathematical modellers? When ‘sage’ indicated wisdom?
In late 2016 the United Kingdom was blighted by the anointment of Theresa May as Prime Minister — possibly the weakest and most damaging PM in UK post-war history. Supported by her team of EU-loving civil servants, this Remainer politician took the country on a tortuous journey that involved the most shameful episode of British defeatism, total disrespect for democracy, and a ‘negotiated settlement’ that would have embarrassed the appeasers to Hitler before he invaded Poland.
A pro-Brexit government was finally elected in 2019 to replace the disastrous May Government but by then the damage had been done. The ideological extremists of the EU had experienced years where their warped ideas of normality had seemingly been given credence by the British government, instead of receiving the ridicule they deserved.
I immediately and consistently opposed the Withdrawal Agreement and N.I. Protocol in its initial and subsequent incarnations and we would never have signed it. Unfortunately, my view along with others did not prevail and the new Johnson Government did the best they could with the poisoned chalice they had inherited — and decided to sign what still amounted to an abomination.
The EU’s appalling (but predictable) behaviour
The EU has indeed proved to be the vindictive bully I and others predicted, preferring its agenda of punishment and extremist ideological purity over the interests of peace in Northern Ireland and normal and friendly trading relations with the UK: its most important near-neighbour. Still, we are where we are. Now we must put things right.
Yesterday’s debate in the House of Commons held out a glimmer of hope. The backbench motion proposed by Sir Bernard Jenkin received the support of the Government and even hinted at the prospect that the Government might finally start to take serious action. We await Lord Frost’s announcements next week with eager anticipation we must put right the terrible injustice that has been done to a supposedly sovereign part of the United Kingdom.
The EU’s appalling behaviour must not be allowed to continue for any more months. As the Rt Hon David Jones MP said yesterday in the chamber if the EU doesn’t change completely: “the only course remaining to the Government is to invoke article 16, and that is what I strongly urge them to do.
[ Sources: Parliament — Hansard ]
readers can read the full debate here if they wish