28 November 2018
Responding to remarks by the Prime Minister Theresa May in respect of current regulatory differences between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom, DUP MEP Diane Dodds said:
Member of the EU Agriculture and Rural Development Committee, Substitute member of the EU Fisheries Committee
‘‘In February the Prime Minister told MPs that the EU’s plan to create ‘a customs and regulatory border down the Irish Sea’ would ‘undermine the UK common market and threaten the constitutional integrity of the United Kingdom.’ She promised to face down this threat and to ensure that Paragraph 50 of the December Joint Report - giving Stormont a veto over any future regulatory barriers within the UK - was honoured. Sadly both promises have been broken.
Mrs May demonstrates a misunderstanding of the impact of current controls between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and those threatened by the draft withdrawal agreement. Today there are only limited controls, on things like live animals and timber. These checks relate to animal health and welfare to ensure disease does not spread in Northern Ireland. These are positive policies related to our unique geography and agreed within the UK legal framework.
What is contained in the backstop is far more significant and far more threatening to the Union. Annex 5 to the draft EU withdrawal agreement contains 68 pages of EU rules and regulations into which Northern Ireland would be locked. Great Britain instead would be free to change their laws. The results would far reaching. As a starting point the backstop would create a damaging new layer of checks on food entering Northern Ireland, potentially leading to delays for supermarkets and other businesses and price hikes for consumers. This would only be day one. There would always be the risk of further divergence in rules, leading to running checks, delays and costs as time passes. This would chip away at the economic, as well as constitutional, integrity of the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister chooses to overlook the threat of this deal and widespread opposition to it. However this strategy is neither in the national interest or in the interests of Northern Ireland. The DUP believes in reaching agreement with the EU on the terms of our exit but not one which threatens our future and fails to implement the referendum result. Despite the Government spin we will continue to work with our allies in all parties at Westminster to make the case for a better deal which honours past commitments and works for all parts of the UK.’’