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House of Commons Hansard
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27 April 2017
Volume 624
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4. Whether he has had discussions with representatives of Sinn Féin on that party’s priorities for Northern Ireland in the negotiations on the UK leaving the EU; and if he will make a statement. [909872]

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11. Whether he has had discussions with representatives of Sinn Féin on that party’s priorities for Northern Ireland in the negotiations on the UK leaving the EU; and if he will make a statement. [909881]

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The Northern Ireland Executive, including Sinn Féin Ministers, have participated in the Joint Ministerial Committee processes, but to discuss our preparations for exit and ensure that we can deliver an approach that works for the whole and each part of the UK we want to see the political situation in Northern Ireland resolved and Assembly government continuing. That is what the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is working hard to achieve.

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I thank the Minister for that answer and for his interest in Northern Ireland; he has come over to visit us—including my constituency, which has a long and significant land border with the Republic of Ireland—on a number of occasions. How can he and the Department ensure that there is further good co-operation as Brexit negotiations continue, particularly in the absence of a Northern Ireland Executive?

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I thank the hon. Gentleman for his question. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and the Prime Minister are fully committed to ensuring that as we establish our negotiating position, the unique interests of Northern Ireland are protected and advanced. I touched earlier on the issue of the common travel area. They have a clear understanding of the range of views from across Northern Ireland, and we will continue to champion the interests of Northern Ireland in the coming months. We remain committed to continuing to work with all parties and a new Executive in the months ahead, as part of our effort to ensure that we deliver a good deal for the whole of the UK, including Northern Ireland.

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May I, too, thank the Minister for all his hard work on behalf of Northern Ireland and Scotland? In recent weeks many discussions have taken place in Northern Ireland about electoral pacts and the bid to block Brexit, as if the decision were reversible. Does he agree that the efforts of all parties would be much better if they were put together in seeking to achieve the best possible outcome for Brexit and for Northern Ireland?

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Absolutely. One great strength of our electoral system is that it allows constituencies and their voters to choose the best candidate to represent them, and not stitch-ups between politicians and parties. Like the hon. Gentleman, I campaigned on the remain side during the referendum but am now working as hard as I can to make the decision of the UK a success for the whole of the United Kingdom. I think voters should reflect on whether their representatives are working constructively to get the best outcome for their constituencies and for the United Kingdom, rather than on deals behind closed doors.

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Will my hon. Friend assure the House that he will do his utmost to ensure that the UK withdrawing from the EU does not disrupt peace on the island of Ireland?

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Absolutely. My hon. Friend is right to raise that point. We must work continuously to ensure that we protect the peace, the agreements that underpin it and the close and unique relationship between the UK and the Republic of Ireland, which is in a better state than it has been in decades.