As if mimicking an episode of Yes Minister, recent days have seen the UK and EU bickering over the future of chilled sausages being sent from the mainland to Northern Ireland. Obviously, this has presented a few problems for some Conservative MPs.
Where once they were heartily backing (and voting for) the PM’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill, now they claim it wasn’t as they understood it and criticise the EU for well…expecting us to follow through on what we signed up for.
Henley MP, John Howell was one of those who backed the WA Bill and wrote that sufficient scrutiny had been given to it before passing. Roy Motteram of EM Oxford Region has gone back to him to see if still stands by that statement and to check that he still supports what he voted for just a few months ago.
If your MP voted to support the Withdrawal Agreement and you would like to follow that up with him or her, we have provided the text of Roy’s letter below.
In October 2019, I suggested to you that 3 days were not sufficient for proper scrutiny of the Withdrawal Agreement Bill.
Your response was to conflate the Withdrawal Agreement Bill with the negotiated Withdrawal Agreement, asserting that the Withdrawal Agreement had had sufficient scrutiny already. However, even that assertion is now starting to sound a little hollow, isn’t it?
The document from the Commons library that you cite in your Newsletter of 22nd October 2019 (https://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-8713/CBP-8713.pdf), is very interesting. It’s a document that, along with a further briefing paper that assesses changes to the Withdrawal Agreement, identifies the implications of the Northern Ireland Protocol. It says on P30 very clearly that:
“In practice, however, Northern Ireland will apply many EU customs rules and there will effectively be a customs and regulatory border between Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the Irish Sea. The new arrangements are permanent, provided consent is given. They are no longer a ‘backstop’ – i.e. an insurance policy which will only come in effect if other measures fail to keep the Irish border open.”
This makes it clear that a border in the Irish Sea is a fundamental element of the Northern Ireland Protocol. Those MPs now expressing outrage over this border either did not read this briefing document, or didn’t understand it.
Given the tone of your newsletter, its reference to the library briefing papers & your subsequent voting record on both the programme motion & the Withdrawal Agreement Bill, I would like to think that you are not amongst them.
Could you please provide clarification that:
a) at the time of your votes you understood the implications of the Northern Irish Protocol
b) you do not support those voices decrying the EU for “legal purism”
In fact, could you please go one step further & repeat your endorsement of the Withdrawal Agreement & the Northern Ireland protocol.