The Prime Minister came to the Commons at the end of the week to present his new negotiating position with the EU to MPs.
I wanted to delve into the detail of his proposals because they deeply concern me over the impact on businesses and stability on the island of Ireland. Within paragraph nine of his proposals, the UK Government say that traders moving goods between Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Great Britain would need to implement a new system of checks. Not only would this place new costs on businesses moving goods and services between mainland Britain and Northern Ireland, but it would also introduce infrastructure on the island of Ireland.
We have gone from a situation where there would be one border on the island of Ireland under the former Prime Minister, Theresa May MP’s, deal to two in this.
Additional borders cost money, and in the case of Northern Ireland erect barriers between communities. This is dangerous.
The Prime Minister offered a meeting and I will happily take him up on that offer.
Following the Prime Minister’s visit to Brussels to take part in the Council of Ministers – the forum where Ministers/Prime Ministers from every elected government meet to set the direction of travel within the EU – she returned to the House of Commons to give a statement on its conclusions. The meeting with primarily focused on security and climate change.
That is why I asked the Prime Minister if she would confirm that leaving the EU in a no deal scenario would mean that we lose access to EUROPOL, EUROJUST, the European Arrest Warrant and SIS 2 – the border security monitoring databases.
As an outgoing Prime Minister I would have hoped for straight talking answers. She has no need to try and defend herself from her backbenches as they have already started selecting their next leader. The Prime Minister should have confirmed that we would lose access to these vital security measures. Instead she focused on internet security. It is time we had a grown up discussion about a no deal Brexit. Something this UK Government will not have.
The announcement that the meaningful vote on the UK Government’s Withdrawal Agreement has now been abandoned demonstrates an utter weakness and incompetency. Knowing full well that the vote would be lost the UK Government has denied Parliament its agreed right to vote.
We are now only told that it has been deferred. When pressed we are not given a new date and according the the House of Commons Clerks this could be as late as the 28 March 2019 – the day before we are set to leave the EU.
I got a chance to point out to the Prime Minister that we are in this sorry situation because of her own red lines on the European Court of Justice and a Customs Union. All of these red lines have made it impossible to get an agreement that protects the security of Northern Ireland, the links between the nations in our union and future prosperity. This Government’s determination to ride roughshod over Parliament is deeply concerning.
Following the recent summit in Brussels over Brexit the Prime Minister returned to the House of Commons to deliver a statement on the stalled negotiations.
I pressed the Prime Minister yet again on the progress of securing the European Arrest Warrant. In particular, I raised my concern the if we lose access to this vital tool to tackle crime it would undermine our ability to extradite people back to the UK to hold them accountable for their crimes during the Troubles.
Sadly, I received no solid reply that progress has been made. All too often people focus on the ‘big ticket items’ surrounding Brexit but failed to notice that it also includes cooperation with our neighbours to tackle crime and bring those who wish to harm our communities to justice.