Philip Dunne highlights the seriousness with which the Government are seeking to respect the Good Friday agreement and highlights the existing customs procedures in the north and south of Ireland used by companies which import and export to countries outside the EU.
Will my hon. Friend, with his customary good grace, take this opportunity at the Dispatch Box to confirm the seriousness with which the Government are seeking to respect the Good Friday agreement, in contrast to the unworthy characterisation by the Labour Front Bench that this is part of some great big game? Secondly, can he alert the House to whether there are existing procedures in the north and south of Ireland by which companies import and export to countries outside the EU using existing customs clearances and checks?
The answer to the second part of my right hon. Friend’s question is that there are established systems that can also be used.
The issue of Northern Ireland is incredibly important. It is central to the delivery of a deal on Brexit. One of the first things that I asked to be able to do was visit the border. It is sometimes difficult to get down to the border: there is a certain resistance to allowing Ministers out of Whitehall, or, if they do get into Northern Ireland, allowing them out of Belfast. However, I went down to Newry and insisted—although I think that some people were not too keen—on visiting the border and criss-crossing and talking to people about the issues. I think that that is the responsible thing to do, to understand the problems at least broadly, so that we can develop solutions as much as possible.