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Prime Minister updates the House of Commons on Brexit negotiations

3 October 2019

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The Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, updated MPs on Brexit negotiations and the Irish backstop.

The Prime Minister announced his deal for withdrawal from the European Union, which is currently being considered by EU officials. He announced that he would replace the Northern Ireland backstop, the mechanism for preventing a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. He proposed that instead Northern Ireland would become part of the UK customs territory, and the backstop would be replaced by a regulatory zone covering all areas of the island of Ireland. 

The Prime Minister again stated that Britain would leave with or without a deal on 31 October 2019.

The Prime Minister told MPs:

"The previous withdrawal agreement and political declaration would have permanently anchored the UK within the orbit of EU regulation and customs arrangements, and an indefinite so-called ‘backstop' provided a bridge to that vision of the future. This Government has a different vision: basing our future relationship with our European neighbours on a free-trade agreement and allowing the UK to take back control of our trade policy and our regulations."

Responding on behalf of the Opposition, the Leader of the Opposition, Jeremy Corbyn stated that the proposal would negatively affect British trade businesses, as well as workers' rights. He also said that the plan to replace the backstop would undermine the Good Friday Agreement and harm the economy of Northern Ireland. He also asked if the Prime Minister will comply with the EU Withdrawal (No.2) Act, which states that he must ask for an extension in the event of a no deal.

The Leader of the Opposition stated:

"The current proposals would damage the whole UK economy, and the Northern Irish economy especially, and would undermine the good Friday agreement. They would lead to a race to the bottom on workers' rights, environmental rights and strip back even the limited protections its predecessor had agreed to. […] The proposals are unrealistic and damaging and will, as I think the PM full-well knows, be rejected in Brussels, rejected in this House and rejected across this country."

The Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader, Ian Blackford, also asked whether the Prime Minister would seek an extension, and emphasised the will of the Scottish people to remain in the European Union.

The Scottish National Party's Westminster Leader said:

"These proposals are unacceptable, they are unworkable, they are undeliverable. […] For Scotland, these proposals would take us out of the European Union, the single market and the customs union against our will."  

Image: Parliamentary Copyright/ Jessica Taylor

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