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House of Commons Hansard
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Border Infrastructure
05 September 2018
Volume 646
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8. What discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential implications for border infrastructure in Northern Ireland of legislative proposals for a single UK customs territory. [906647]

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12. What discussions she has had with the Chancellor of the Exchequer on the potential implications for border infrastructure in Northern Ireland of legislative proposals for a single UK customs territory. [906651]

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The Government’s commitments in respect of the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland have been consistently clear. There will be no physical infrastructure on the border or related checks and controls. This commitment is also reflected in the December joint report text, which we have committed to translate into legally binding text in the withdrawal agreement.

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In nine months, all that the Government have done by way of proposals for an open border in Ireland is to demand that 27 other sovereign states change their customs systems in order to collect customs duties on behalf of this Government. Why do the Government expect every other country in the European Union to sort out the mess that they have created?

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With all due respect, I think the hon. Gentleman is confusing our proposals in the White Paper on the future relationship with our proposals for the legal, binding text for the protocols in paragraph 49 of the joint report, which we have committed to making into a legal text. We are working with the European Union on coming up with a text that we can all live with, but we will not accept the text that was put forward by the European Commission.

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The Secretary of State talks with no hint of irony about consistency from this Government. The reality is that their obsession with ending the free movement of people is going to require some form of border control. How does she square ending the free movement of people with her obligations under the Belfast agreement?

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The people of the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union, and that means that we will regain control of our laws, our borders and our money. We will also ensure that we will meet the commitments that we made in the joint report in December to ensuring that there is no hard border on the island of Ireland and no border in the Irish sea.

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Collecting duties on trade across the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic currently happens and does not present any problems. The real damage to Northern Ireland and to the integrity of the United Kingdom would be to have regulatory alignment between Northern Ireland and the Republic, giving the EU, rather than London, control over our laws in Northern Ireland. Will the Secretary of State give an assurance that in no circumstances will she agree to the backstop arrangement demanded by the EU, which would split the United Kingdom by having laws—

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Order. We are immensely grateful, but that was far too long.

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I refer the right hon. Gentleman back to the comments made by my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister when she said that no Prime Minister of the United Kingdom could accept the text put forward by the European Commission.