Speaking after the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill completed its Committee Stage in the House of Lords he said,
“The restoration of devolution in Northern Ireland requires the Protocol to be replaced with arrangements that can be supported by both unionists and nationalists and which restore Northern Ireland’s place within the United Kingdom.
There are only two ways in which the problem can be solved. That is either through legislation, or by a negotiated outcome with the European Union. Those who say the Protocol Bill should be paused or set aside should consider the impact that has on Northern Ireland and the political institutions. Whilst the EU’s negotiating mandate remains unchanged, there would seem to be little prospect of a positive outcome to the discussions and therefore little prospect of a solution via that route.
There can be no settlement of this issue which fails to restore power to local politicians to make laws in the areas currently handed over to Brussels. And any outcome must match up, at the very least, to the government’s own analysis of the Protocol’s defects set out in the Government Command Paper of July 2021 and the contents of the Protocol bill currently going through Parliament. It means change to the Protocol itself not tinkering to make it work better as so far suggested by the EU.
It is in everyone’s interests to see a resolution to the problems caused by the Protocol. As we try to help people with the cost of living, the Protocol is driving up transport costs and the prices on our shelves. As the Protocol Bill has now passed Committee Stage in the House of Lords, it is another step forward. To those who oppose the Bill, I say turn your focus to the European Union and ask when its negotiating mandate will be changed to create a realistic prospect of progress via that route.”