27 June 2022
Mitchell raises concerns that Northern Ireland Protocol Bill breaks international law

Intervening during the Second Reading of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, Andrew Mitchell seeks assurances from the Foreign Secretary over concerns that the Bill breaks a solemn international treaty and damages our international reputation.

Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con)

I have an immense amount of sympathy with what the Foreign Secretary is saying, and it does seem to me as though the EU is not being particularly constructive in trying to get the solution that we all want to see. But many of us are extremely concerned that the Bill brazenly breaks a solemn international treaty, trashes our international reputation, threatens a trade war at a time when our economy is flat, and puts us at odds with our most important ally. Can she say anything to reassure me in my anxieties on these points?

Elizabeth Truss (The Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs)

As I said at the outset, our preference is for a negotiated solution, and we have sought that for 18 months, but as recently as last weekend the EU has refused to change the text of the protocol. That is why there is strong legal justification, as set out in our legal statement, for us taking this action. Our priority, as the United Kingdom Government, has to be political stability within our own country. While we put this Bill through Parliament, we will continue to seek a negotiated solution with the EU, and there are provisions in the Bill to deliver that. I would strongly encourage my right hon. Friend to raise this with the EU directly and to encourage a negotiated solution, because there is a solution to be achieved. We have laid it out very clearly with our red and green proposal, but we do need the EU to agree to change the text of the protocol. That is the fundamental issue that needs to be addressed.