I’ve been contacted by a number of constituents who have rightly expressed concerns about the passage of the Internal Markets Bill and its potential impact in relation to International Law, especially given the fact that the UK has a great tradition of promoting the rule of law around the world.
The Bill’s primary function is to provide a safety net for business across the UK to continue to trade freely after January 1st as they have done for centuries and is only needed if we fail to secure a Free Trade Agreement with the EU.
If we don’t find a legal way to ensure each nation within the UK can maintain open and free trading borders, in the event of failing to reach a deal, a trade border will be erected along the Irish Sea which is totally unacceptable and I believe constituents expect me to support any provision that ensures against this.
One positive outcome of six days of debate is that Government is now required to come back to Parliament to enact the Internal Markets Act if it is required. Only then will Parliament be breaching International Law and only in relation to the Withdrawal Agreement in relation to trade between NI and Great Britain.
I am prepared to vote for this is the need arises because the UK is a Sovereign Independent State and domestic law must come first.
Good Friday Agreement
I’ve listened intently to the debate in relation to the Internal Markets Bill and was privileged to be selected to speak in the debate which is no mean feat given the current restrictions in Parliament due to coronavirus. I’ve not heard any convincing argument and I’m not aware of any legal document that confirms the Internal Markets Bill compromises or threatens the Good Friday Agreement or peace in Northern Ireland.
Free Trade Agreement
The priority for me and for Government is to secure a Free Trade Agreement with the EU. Having spoken at length with Michael Gove MP, the Minister overseeing these negotiations this week, I’m confident a deal will be reached and this could be as soon as October 15th. There are few outstanding issues that must be resolved before this can be done including the insistence that the UK signs up to the Commons Fisheries Policy for an extended period. This will not happen and I’m glad the Government are refusing to budge on this issue.
To summarise, the priority is to secure a Free Trade Agreement which could be achieved very soon, international law has not been broken in the passage of the Internal Markets Bill and I am absolutely committed to avoiding a No Deal situation if at all possible.