The co-chairs of the UK-EU Joint Committee met last Wednesday to discuss the set of issues with the protocol that need to be addressed to protect the vital links between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom. These engagements are supported by regular official-level contact, including via the Northern Ireland/Ireland specialised committee, which met last Tuesday, to ensure that the protocol operates as intended, with minimum impact on the everyday lives of people in Northern Ireland. We will continue to discuss all our implementation efforts through the withdrawal agreement structures, including in giving effect to the commitments made at December’s Joint Committee, and there will be an informal meeting with the EU and Vice-President Šefčovič later today.
Some Northern Irish companies have been boasting about their dual access to both the British and EU marketplaces for trade purposes. Will the Secretary of State confirm that Northern Ireland businesses do indeed have great opportunities and that this also creates a relative disadvantage for businesses in Scotland?
As I outlined in response to an earlier question, Northern Ireland businesses have a huge opportunity and a huge competitive advantage, not least because of the amazing skillsets across Northern Ireland in technology, hydrogen and advanced engineering. There are a wide range of things that businesses in Northern Ireland have to promote, with the advantage they have in promoting around the world, to develop business and more jobs for Northern Ireland.