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Northern Ireland Backstop

Volume 650: debated on Thursday 6 December 2018

18. What recent discussions his Department has had with EU officials on technological solutions to avoid the proposed Northern Ireland backstop. (908058)

We had discussions on alternative arrangements to avoid the need for the backstop to come into effect, and that is why the political declaration includes a specific commitment to consider how facilitative arrangements and technologies could be used to develop such alternative arrangements to avoid a hard border in the island of Ireland. To ensure that those are developed quickly, the forward process section sets out how preparatory work should begin before we leave, enabling rapid progress after our withdrawal.

I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) and the Secretary of State on their new positions on the Front Bench. They will do their job admirably. The truth of the matter is that existing techniques currently used in the EU can be applied to all EU borders. Will my hon. Friend update the House on those technologies and how they can be properly applied?

My right hon. Friend makes an interesting point. It is an argument that we have made a number of times earlier in the process. There are techniques that can be explored. I think it is fair to say that discussions have further to go on this front to ensure that both parties are agreed on how we implement those. That is what we will want to take forward very rapidly under the political declaration.