Sammy Wilson: We need to be assured of no Irish Sea border for regulations, not just for customs

The new Brexit Secretary could not have made it any clearer in the House of Commons on Tuesday when he repeated seven times that there would be no customs border impeding the flow of trade between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom after we left the European Union.

That is a welcome commitment from the man who has taken over negotiations with Brussels, but it is only half the assurance which we need if the integrity of the UK is to be maintained and NI is to be truly free of the EU.

Northern Ireland would be tied to all EU regulations, and the European Court of Justice, above, would adjudicate

Northern Ireland would be tied to all EU regulations, and the European Court of Justice, above, would adjudicate

Just as important is the need for the government to ensure that there is no acquiescence to the arrogant EU demand for a backstop arrangement which would require NI to be tied to all current and future EU regulations so that there was no regulatory divergence between NI and the Irish Republic.

This would mean that Northern Ireland laws would be made by bureaucrats and politicians in Brussels instead of being made by elected representative in Belfast and London.

It would put up barriers to trade between NI and our biggest trading partners in Great Britain.

It would mean that the European Court of Justice would be the final adjudicator of the laws which governed NI.

Letter to the editor

Letter to the editor

It would in effect leave us as an annex to the EU, no longer part of the UK, without any ability to influence the whole range of issues which affect life in NI.

It is important that the UK government does no surrender to the demands of Michel Barnier and Leo Varadkar on this important issue.

There can be no backstop of this nature.

Indeed it is our view that the prime minister was foolish in ever agreeing the need for a backstop in the first place, and the reason why the DUP dug its heels in last December to stop her signing the original version of the EU withdrawal agreement was because we understood how damaging this demand was to our economy and our membership of the UK.

Sammy Wilson MP, seen in the House of Commons chamber earlier this year

Sammy Wilson MP, seen in the House of Commons chamber earlier this year

There is no doubt that as the deadline for negotiations draws near there will be renewed attempts by the EU and the Irish to push this demand. They argue that it is necessary because of the land border between NI and the Republic of Ireland.

Land borders exist in other parts of the EU in the Balkans, Switzerland, Norway, Turkey and Russia yet there is no need for those countries to surrender their constitutional sovereignty in order to permit trade across the borders.

Neither is there any need for such demands to be made in relation to NI and if the EU insists that this price must be paid then the UK government, in order to prevent the breakup of the UK, should make it clear that there will be no deal.

Sammy Wilson, DUP MP, East Antrim