EU negotiations and Northern Ireland

I have received a further update on the UK government's position in the EU negotiations to finalise the terms in which Britain will relate to our former EU partners after the transition period which runs out at the end of this year. It reads as follows.

The Prime Minister has set out how, while we believe there is still an agreement that can be done with the EU, we will not compromise on what it means to be an independent and sovereign nation to secure it. 

  • There needs to be an agreement with our European friends by the time of the European Council on 15 October if it’s going to be in force by the end of the year. So there is no sense in thinking about timelines that go beyond that point and if we can’t agree by then, the Prime Minster does not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us, and we should both accept that and move on.   
  • We will then have a trading arrangement with the EU like Australia’s – as we have said right from the start, that would be a good outcome for the UK. As a Government we are preparing, at our borders and at our ports, to be ready for it.  We will have full control over our laws, our rules, and our fishing waters.  We will have the freedom to do trade deals with every country in the world.  And we will prosper mightily as a result.
  • We will of course always be ready to talk to our EU friends even in these circumstances. We will be ready to find sensible accommodations on practical issues such as flights, lorry transport, or scientific cooperation, if the EU wants to do that.  Our door will never be closed and we will trade as friends and partners – but without a free trade agreement. 
  • There is still an agreement to be had.  We will continue to work hard in September to achieve it.  It is one based on our reasonable proposal for a standard free trade agreement like the one the EU has agreed with Canada and so many others. Even at this late stage, we hope the EU are ready to rethink their current positions and agree this. But we cannot and will not compromise on the fundamentals of what it means to be an independent country to get it.

We are going to use the UK Internal Market Bill and the Finance Bill to clarify some limited elements of the Withdrawal Agreement, specifically the Northern Ireland Protocol, in order to protect the peace process and to uphold the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement.

  • Over the last few months we have taken a number of steps to comply with our obligations under the protocol, including building new SPS checks for goods entering NI from GB. We will continue to implement the protocol over the coming weeks and months. 
  • Throughout this process we have taken steps that, in our view, are in line with our commitments to both work with the EU in implementing the protocol and to ensure that the peace process isn’t inadvertently subverted. 
  • We are now taking limited and reasonable steps to clarify, in domestic legislation, certain elements of the Northern Ireland Protocol. These steps will ensure that the Government is always able to meet its commitments to the people of Northern Ireland. These steps will make sure that: Northern Ireland truly remains in the UK’s customs territory; NI businesses continue to enjoy unfettered access to the rest of the UK and; EU law doesn’t stop other elements of essential Government business. This all reflects commitments made in the Government’s election manifesto and in the commitments we have made to the people of Northern Ireland. 
  • So, in the UKIM Bill and Finance Bill, we will introduce some limited measures which will allow ministers, while discharging their duties under the protocol, to ensure: 
    • Goods remaining in the U.K. customs territory never have to pay tariffs;
    • NI firms have true unfettered access to the rest of the UK without paperwork;
    • There is no legal confusion about the fact that Great Britain will be outside the EU’s State Aid regime after the end of the transition period.
  • These steps will allow us to continue to implement the protocol in a responsible way that avoids inadvertent problems. We will continue to work with the EU in the spirit of good faith and shared commitment to upholding the peace process.


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