I engage regularly with the Northern Ireland parties—indeed, I spoke to all the Executive party leaders only this morning—and I will continue to keep my Cabinet colleagues fully apprised of those discussions.
The Secretary of State told the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee that he would be calling an election
“at one minute past midnight”
on 28 October, but that did not happen, which has left Northern Ireland in limbo. Reports have since emerged that the Secretary of State was directly overruled by the Prime Minister. Is that true, or did he mean to intentionally mislead a parliamentary Committee?
I do not believe that I was overruled by the Prime Minister.
At this week’s session of the UK-EU Parliamentary Partnership Assembly—which you kindly opened, Mr Speaker—we were able to discuss the situation in Northern Ireland relating to the protocol and the talks. Voices were raised from across Europe, and from all parts of the House, encouraging the Government and the European Commission to reach an agreement, because that is the gateway to co-operation on so many other things. I commend the Secretary of State on having the talks, and I say to him, “Let’s get a decision.”
I thank my right hon. and learned Friend for the work he does in the Assembly. It is a vital new institution, which has deep roots in the European Parliament as well as this Parliament, and it will add great value to our discussions.