The week ahead will be a pivotal time for the Brexit process. Negotiations are at their hardest pace and the Brexit Secretary has been in Brussels meeting with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier. I am conscious that over the coming week constituents will hear plenty of media speculation about the Brexit process so I wanted to update you personally on the latest ongoing Brexit developments. Yesterday the Prime Minister gave an update to Parliament on the latest developments in the talks.
The Prime Minister stated that “We are entering the final stages of these negotiations. This is the time for cool, calm heads to prevail and it is the time for a clear-eyed focus on the few remaining but critical issues that are still to be agreed”.
The Government has made real progress on both the withdrawal agreement as well as the structure and scope of our future relationship with the EU. The shape of a deal across the vast majority of the withdrawal agreement, the terms of our exit, have been agreed.
Progress is being made on the Northern Ireland issue and both the UK and EU share responsibility to ensure the integrity of the Good Friday Agreement and peace in Northern Ireland remains in place.
The Prime Minister has said that “Our future economic partnership should provide for solutions to the unique circumstances for Northern Ireland in the long term”.
This unique situation in Northern Ireland is why it is necessary that we have a backstop in place, to ensure that if a gap occurs at the end of the implementation period that there would be no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland.
Maintaining the integrity of our United Kingdom is of paramount importance and no Government could commit to any plan which would put up an artificial border down the Irish Sea.
The Prime Minister has made clear that the backstop is a temporary solution. “We are not going to be trapped permanently in a single customs territory unable to do meaningful trade deals. So it must be the case that first, the backstop should not need to come into force. Second that if it does it must be temporary. Third, whilst I do not believe this will be the case, that if the EU were not to cooperate on our future relationship we must be able to ensure that we be kept in this backstop arrangement indefinitely”.
Both the Government and EU agree with backstop must be temporary.
More broadly, a good deal is still the most likely outcome and the Government are continuing to negotiate in this vein to deliver a Brexit deal that is in the best interest of the whole United Kingdom. I will continue to keep you updated with the latest Brexit developments and work in Parliament which I expect to help secure a Brexit that is good for jobs and services for us here in Norwich North.