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Republic of Ireland: Discussions post-EU Referendum

Volume 613: debated on Wednesday 20 July 2016

9. What discussions he has had with the Government of the Republic of Ireland since the EU referendum. (905917)

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I have held a series of meetings and phone calls with political leaders in both Ireland and Northern Ireland, and these will continue.

I congratulate the Secretary of State and his team. There is not one politician with an ounce of sense who suggests that a hard border would be of benefit to either the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland, but some are suggesting a hard border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. Will the Secretary of State take this early opportunity to rule out such a nonsensical and dangerous proposal?

The issue of the common travel area and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is absolutely at the forefront of my agenda. I recognise, as do the Irish Government, the real benefits of the common travel area. It is about not just the movement of people, but goods and services. I certainly do not want to see a return to the borders of the past, which is why I will engage with colleagues across Government, as well as the Irish Government, to get the best possible outcome for Northern Ireland as part of the United Kingdom. [Interruption.]

Order. The hon. Member for Foyle (Mark Durkan) must be heard on matters that pertain directly to his constituents.

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I extend my courtesies to the new ministerial team.

Does the Secretary of State acknowledge that the concern is to avoid not just the creation of new border posts, but the unnecessary and unhelpful borderism that the separation of north and south—of non-EU and EU—would entail? The new Immigration Minister gave an example of borderism yesterday when he boasted of his pre-Brexit bout of borderism with the HGV levy on cross-border trucks.

I certainly recognise the various points the hon. Gentleman has made. Border issues are significant both for the movement of people and for goods and services, and that is intrinsic to the overall arrangements between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is why I have made a very clear commitment in all my statements to ensuring that we do not return to the arrangements of the past, and that is precisely what will remain a priority for me in my role.