The new Northern Ireland Secretary, Karen Bradley, today appeared to rule out any future regulatory divergence between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
She told the House of Lords EU committee this afternoon that “it simply isn’t tenable to have different rules for one side of the field from the other side of the field” when it comes to the border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Lord Peter Hain, former Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“The cat is now out of the bag on Northern Ireland. Even the Northern Ireland Secretary accepts that regulatory divergence is not possible. This makes a complete mockery of the Government’s plans to leave the Single Market and the Customs Union, whilst also keeping an open border on the island of Ireland.
“The reality is that the Government’s statements on the Irish border have been a complete fudge at best, and dangerously contradictory at worst. You cannot have different regulatory standards or different tariff regimes if you want the Irish border to remain as open as it is today.
“The only way to avoid the re-emergence of a hard border in Ireland is for the whole UK to stay in both the Single Market and the Customs Union on a permanent basis.”
Notes to editors
The exact quote as follows: (16:29:50 onwards) http://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/0f2a3ef4-fb15-464b-bf90-3ba9ff4a8e2a
“There are more border crossings between Northern Ireland and Ireland than there are on the whole of the eastern side of the European Union. There are fields where the border goes through it. We are talking about agricultural production. It simply isn’t tenable to have different rules for one side of the field from the other side of the field and we are all pragmatic about that. The single electricity market is another example of a unique circumstances of Northern Ireland.”