‘The deal is not a threat to in­tegrity of the Union’

Belfast Telegraph - - NEWS | POLITICS - Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP

The full text of Karen Bradley’s open let­ter

Over the past fort­night, the Prime Minister and the rest of the Cab­i­net have been work­ing hard to ex­plain the ben­e­fits of the deal we have struck to leave the Euro­pean Union.

At the begin­ning of this pe­riod, the Prime Minister wrote a let­ter to the whole of the United King­dom.

As the day of the mean­ing­ful vote in Par­lia­ment ap­proaches, I wanted to em­pha­sise what the deal means specif­i­cally for the peo­ple of North­ern Ire­land.

In her let­ter, the Prime Minister ex­plained why the deal with the EU de­liv­ers on the re­sult of the ref­er­en­dum for the en­tire United King­dom.

She set out how it puts us on course for a pros­per­ous fu­ture while main­tain­ing our close re­la­tion­ship with our friends and neigh­bours in the EU.

As Sec­re­tary of State for North­ern Ire­land, I want to set out my sup­port for this deal and how it de­liv­ers for the peo­ple and busi­nesses of North­ern Ire­land.

Af­ter a long and com­plex ne­go­ti­a­tion process, this deal de­liv­ers on im­por­tant is­sues such as pro­tect­ing the con­sti­tu­tional in­tegrity of the United King­dom, pro­tect­ing vi­tal jobs and in­vest­ments, leav­ing both the Com­mon Agri­cul­tural Pol­icy and the Com­mon Fish­eries Pol­icy, and tak­ing back control of our bor­ders, money, and laws.

This deal de­liv­ers for the whole of the United King­dom.

The North­ern Ire­land Pro­to­col, which sets out the North­ern Ire­land el­e­ment of the deal, has some im­por­tant guar­an­tees for the peo­ple in North­ern Ire­land.

It guar­an­tees that even in the un­likely event that the UK’s fu­ture re­la­tion­ship with the

EU is not in place by the end of the im­ple­men­ta­tion pe­riod in De­cem­ber 2020, there will be no hard border be­tween North­ern Ire­land and Ire­land.

At the same time the pro­to­col also con­tains legally bind­ing com­mit­ments that both the UK and EU will take the nec­es­sary steps to en­sure the back­stop is tem­po­rary.

Im­por­tantly, the agree­ment up­holds the Belfast Agree­ment in all its parts, in­clud­ing the con­sent prin­ci­ple over North­ern Ire­land’s place within our Union.

It en­sures peo­ple and busi­nesses that rely on an open border be­tween North­ern Ire­land and Ire­land can con­tinue liv­ing their lives and op­er­at­ing as they do now.

It is not a threat to the in­tegrity of the Union, or a threat to the rights peo­ple en­joy to­day.

In short, we have se­cured an out­come for North­ern Ire­land that avoids a hard border on the is­land of Ire­land and a cus­toms border down the Ir­ish Sea.

The deal avoids North­ern Ire­land be­ing in a sep­a­rate cus­toms ter­ri­tory to the rest of the UK, some­thing that the EU had orig­i­nally sought to im­pose. In­stead, it achieves the main­te­nance of a sin­gle UK cus­toms ter­ri­tory. Out­side the EU we will be able to strike new trade deals around the world and open up new mar­kets in the world’s fastest grow­ing economies.

In line with the clear com­mit­ments we made in the De­cem­ber Joint Re­port, the UK would en­sure un­fet­tered ac­cess for NI busi­nesses to the whole UK in­ter­nal mar­ket.

The deal pro­tects all the things we value. For all the peo­ple in North­ern Ire­land, this means con­tin­u­ing the progress over the past two decades un­der the Belfast Agree­ment, sup­port­ing our busi­ness com­mu­nity to thrive, en­sur­ing a good deal for our agri­cul­tural and fish­ing in­dus­tries and pro­vid­ing a safe, se­cure and pros­per­ous so­ci­ety for fu­ture gen­er­a­tions.

Like the Prime Minister, I have been cam­paign­ing tire­lessly to sup­port and help de­liver this deal.

Now is the time to come to­gether to build a brighter fu­ture for North­ern Ire­land.

Yours ever,

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