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UK Internal Market Bill – Lords EU Committee seeks urgent clarity on implications for Northern Ireland Protocol

Friday 18 September 2020

The House of Lords EU Committee has today published a letter to Michael Gove asking a series of questions about the UK Internal Market Bill’s inter-relationship with the terms of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement and Ireland/Northern Ireland Protocol.

Following its reports earlier this year on the Withdrawal Agreement and on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, and recent discussions over the Bill, the Committee has set out its intention to publish a report ahead of the Bill’s second reading in the Lords, examining its compatibility with those international agreements.

Questions raised in the letter include:

  • Does the Bill break international law and, if so, how?
  • What are the Government’s specific concerns over the EU’s interpretation of the Protocol?
  • What steps has the Government taken to address these concerns using the arbitration and dispute resolution procedures provided for in the Withdrawal Agreement?
  • What evidence does the Government have to support the comments made by the PM that the EU has not acted in good faith, and that it could blockade food and agricultural transports from Great Britain to Northern Ireland?

Lord Kinnoull, Chair of the Lords EU Committee, commented:

“We raised a lot of concerns with the Government in our report back in June over the lack of clarity on the Northern Ireland Protocol. The Government has yet to provide much of that clarity, and now the UK Internal Market Bill, in particular Part 5, has thrown up even bigger questions over the UK’s approach to implementation of the Protocol.

“The Government’s paramount goal must be to protect peace and stability in Northern Ireland. The Protocol’s stated aim is to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland and to protect the Belfast/Good Friday Agreement, while respecting the territorial integrity of the UK. Given that the Government has now said that it is prepared to break the agreement on the Protocol, we need to be absolutely clear about why it is doing this. This is an urgent matter as time is short.”

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