Belfast Telegraph

Kate Hoey: Government has capitulated and backstop will split NI from the UK

Kate Hoey
Kate Hoey

By Kate Hoey MP

I have now ploughed through the 585 pages of the proposed withdrawal agreement and the explanation notes and the outline of the political declaration framework for the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Like most documents associated with the EU, it is written in EU-speak by lawyers who seem to want to make it as complicated and fudged as possible.

But the bottom line for me, as someone who loves my country and who campaigned to leave in order to allow us to take back control of our laws, borders and trade, is the way Northern Ireland is being treated. Quite simply, Northern Ireland to all intents and purposes becomes separated in many ways from the rest of the United Kingdom.

The backstop arrangements look like they were written by the Irish government — we cannot leave unilaterally and we could be trapped there for ever and, even if the rest of the UK is freed, Northern Ireland stays in, with the Republic of Ireland effectively representing Northern Ireland in the EU.

There is no incentive for the EU to sign a free trade deal, ever. Why should they, when our Prime Minister will have signed up to a deal that binds the whole UK into a ‘single customs territory’ forcing us to abide by EU tariffs.

The EU will have a veto over new international agreements and trade partnerships.

Indeed, it is worse, as the unelected commission will retain the right to veto our foreign policy too, saying we would have to ‘refrain’ from ‘any action or initiative’ which the EU deems to be prejudicial to its interests.

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The Prime Minister voted to remain, but I believed her when she constantly proclaimed her intention to leave the Customs Union, the Single Market and take control of our laws.

As Shailesh Vara, the Minister in the Northern Ireland Office, said in his resignation letter: “It is a sad day when we are reduced to obeying rules made by other countries who have shown that they do not have our best interest at heart.”

Undoubtedly, the ‘hard border’ threat has been weaponised by both the Irish government and the European Union and our negotiators fell for it.

It is ironic that the only hard border at the moment between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland is in the sea, as Northern Ireland fishermen are banned from fishing in Irish waters, yet Irish fishermen can fish freely in NI waters.

The Irish government two years ago reneged on the neighbourhood agreement of 1965, yet accuse Leavers of wanting a hard border.

The people of the UK, in the largest ever democratic vote, decided to Leave the EU, not leave a little and stay a little.

They have been sold out by a powerful elite who never wanted us to leave and by a Prime Minister who has capitulated to every whim of Brussels.

This deal is not worth a penny, never mind £39bn.

Kate Hoey is the Northern Ireland-born Labour MP for Vauxhall

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