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Exports to Northern Ireland: Businesses in Great Britain

Volume 705: debated on Wednesday 8 December 2021

9. What steps his Department is taking to support businesses in Great Britain which export to Northern Ireland. (904555)

International trade is vital to boosting prosperity for this country, and trade within the United Kingdom is essential for our sense of connectivity and belonging, which is a priority for this Government.

I thank the Minister for his answer and for the steps he is taking to support trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. [Interruption.]

Order. We should know better. When a Member is asking a question, you should not be walking in front of him. That is just not fair.

Thank you, Mr Speaker.

Despite these measures, east-west trade remains disrupted because of the EU’s application of elements within the protocol. I wholeheartedly support the Minister’s efforts to remedy the situation, but if those efforts are unsuccessful, will he confirm that all measures, including invoking article 16, remain on the table?

The Government have been absolutely clear that we want to find a sustainable and durable solution to the problems created by the protocol. Under the strong leadership of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister and Lord Frost’s unrivalled grasp of the protocol, we are determined to reach that solution.

Would not the best way by far to support east-west trade, and to overcome the entirely self-inflicted wounds that this Government have created with the protocol, be simply to realign with the single market and the customs union?

That is so 2016, is it not? SNP Members are still not reconciled to the democratic decision that the British people took to control their own destiny and leave the European Union. We are determined to find a sustainable and durable solution to the protocol, but my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister, Lord Frost and the Secretary of State are all clear that if that cannot be achieved, we will take whatever actions are necessary to secure the interests of the whole United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland.

The Irish Times carries a piece that states that the Republic of Ireland now has the highest debt in all of Europe and 20% higher costs of living than Northern Ireland, and it now requires a multibillion-pound bailout from Europe to deal with the consequences of Brexit. Is it not the case that, by contrast, Northern Ireland is part of the fifth largest economy in the world, and that not only is it part of a strong and growing economy, but it requires the friction that exists between businesses in Northern Ireland and GB to be removed? Invoking article 16 will allow that friction to be removed.

We do not need any international comparisons to sell the benefits of Northern Ireland being an integral part of our United Kingdom. It is good for jobs, it is good for health and it is good for prosperity. We are definitely better together.

Before we come to Prime Minister’s questions—[Interruption.] Mr MacNeil, I do not need any help from you. This is an important message to those people who are watching. Before I come to Prime Minister’s questions, I would like to point out that the British Sign Language interpretation of proceedings is available to watch on