Protocol Bill passes welcome milestone

DUP Leader Sir Jeffrey Donaldson MP said,

"The completion of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill through its House of Commons stages this evening (Wednesday) is a welcome milestone. The Bill now moves to the House of Lords having secured a decisive majority of 72.

It is clear that across Westminster, regardless of how members may view the issue of the United Kingdom leaving the European Union, that there is a widespread acceptance that the Northern Ireland Protocol has not worked, has eroded confidence in our local institutions, and that Northern Ireland cannot continue to be negatively impacted both constitutionally and economically.

Over the last two years it has become clear that unless the EU is prepared to change its current negotiating mandate it is unlikely that an agreed outcome can be achieved that will deal with both the democratic deficit and the barriers to trade we currently experience. In the absence of a negotiated outcome with the European Union, acceptable to both Unionists and Nationalists, then this Bill is the only framework that can deal with the problems of the Protocol.

It is deeply regrettable that our warnings on the Protocol were not heeded in 2019. However, progress has been made by highlighting the harm done by the Protocol and by focusing the minds of those who thought that we would roll-over and accept its ongoing implementation. Just a few short weeks ago some doubted that this Bill would get introduced, others thought that it would face significant opposition from within the governing party in the Commons. Neither of those scenarios have come to pass.

Members in the Lords will now face a clear choice in September – wrecking the Bill and with it the foundations of the Belfast Agreement and its successor Agreements which have delivered relative political stability in Northern Ireland, or restoring the political balance in Northern Ireland and protecting the political agreements that have been hard won over the last two decades.

Northern Ireland must have its full place within the United Kingdom internal market restored, its democratic deficit remedied, and in so doing providing the basis for the establishment of a stable and fully functioning Executive. We know the House of Lords will be mindful of the weight of responsibility they bear.”

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