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Engagement with Businesses: Northern Ireland Protocol

Volume 707: debated on Wednesday 26 January 2022

6. What engagement the Government has had with Northern Ireland businesses on the Northern Ireland protocol since 1 January 2022. (905213)

My engagement with the Northern Ireland business community is extensive. Just this week I have been in Northern Ireland engaging directly with businesses, as I do every week, to discuss the impacts of the protocol as well as any wider concerns or issues.

The Government published their Command Paper last July, the European Union published four papers last October, and I understand that the Government have tabled a revised legal text in the negotiations. Does the Secretary of State recognise that there is a desire among businesses in Northern Ireland for much greater transparency around the UK Government’s negotiating objectives?

We have been very transparent and clear with businesses. The Minister for Europe and I, and indeed the Foreign Secretary, have met and engaged with businesses, as we will be doing tomorrow, and outlined exactly what our objectives are: to deliver what businesses in Northern Ireland want, which is to rectify the problems that are hampering businesses in Northern Ireland. We need to correct the protocol, and the EU needs to show some flexibility to make that work.

When it comes to negotiations with the European Union, this Government told us that we could have our cake and eat it, but we face a harsh reality: a Prime Minister ambushed by cake while businesses in Northern Ireland are crying out for certainty. When will the Government finally bake off and deliver a veterinary agreement?

I will ignore the cakeism directed from the Opposition Front Bench and just say that it is good to see the hon. Lady finally supporting the UK Government, which Labour has failed to do while we are focused on delivering for Northern Ireland, rectifying the protocol and fixing the problem. Get on board!

Before we 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