E Pluribus Unum - Out of Many, One

I will conclude with the noble Baroness` remarks that the Labour Party would accept an agreement that would not give us control of our borders, our laws and our fish, because the line he presented was indeed “agreed at all costs.” We are working tirelessly to reach an agreement. The Prime Minister has made that clear. As I said, we understood from the beginning that we could not accept an agreement at any price. As was made clear this week, differences remain between the two sides. To repeat what I have just said, we cannot accept an agreement that jeopardizes the control of our money, our laws, our borders and our fish. We know that we must now continue and give the industry greater clarity about what this agreement means to it and how it will work in practice, and we will do so by issuing other guidelines. This will include the intensive work we will do to implement the protocol. Above all, we will always work with the interests of the citizens and businesses of Northern Ireland, as this agreement and the important flexibilities it will offer reflect. We must not forget that the protocol must work for the whole community in Northern Ireland. The question of whether it should be maintained in the future, as the protocol itself says, must be decided by the people of Northern Ireland through the democratic approval mechanism negotiated by my legitimate friend, the Prime Minister. In this critical context of the primacy of democracy, I recommend this statement to Parliament.

My lords, Parliament has voted in the Withdrawal Treaty on a section that confirms the sovereignty of the United Kingdom. With regard to the details of justice or jurisdiction, it must follow the appropriate course, in accordance with protocol. So these are three commitments and three commitments that we have kept. But this agreement goes further and provides additional flexibility that will allow us to seize the opportunities that will be offered to us at the end of the transition period. As you know, Mr President, this House has been concerned about the risk that the state aid provisions of the protocol will weigh on what is called a return to competition. The fear of many colleagues was that a British company with only a peripheral link to business activities in Northern Ireland could be accidentally covered by the tests in the text of the protocol. That would not have been acceptable, nor was it what the protocol had provided for. That is why I am pleased that the agreement we have addresses this risk. This means that British businesses will remain outside the state aid rules if there is no real and direct link with Northern Ireland and there is no truly predictable impact on trade between Northern Ireland and the EU. This is an important step forward in the consideration of a subject raised by a number of Members of Parliament. Charles Falconer, Labor`s spokesman for constitutional policy, warned that the law could turn the UK into an “international pariah,” while others said that Joe Biden, the president-elect of the United States, had asked the UK to do nothing that could undermine the 1998 Good Friday peace agreement. Boris Johnson has been warned that he would struggle to get controversial laws through the House of Lords – aimed at repealing the Brexit withdrawal deal.

“This bill is intended to make Parliament complicit in a system that openly ignores two fundamental principles — that single agreements must be respected and that the government is not above the law,” said David Anderson, an independent member of the Lords.


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