Thank you for your editorial on the European Research Group’s (ERG) research paper on the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland after Brexit (Key initiative from the ERG to overcome backstop stalemate, September 13).
The ERG’s view is that the prospect of an internal regulatory border down the Irish Sea is completely unacceptable.
Such a border formed part of Michel Barnier’s proposals in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.
As we say on page 8 of the report:
“The Withdrawal Agreement proposals are a clear breach of the Principle of Consent enshrined in the Belfast Agreement, designed to respect the border and leave the choice about its future solely, democratically and peacefully in the hands of the people of Northern Ireland.”
This view is repeated on p. 11:
“Under his unacceptable proposals, there would be extensive controls between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.”
Our proposals, on the other hand (p. 3) “do nothing to alter the constitutional position of Northern Ireland, and do not violate the Principle of Consent enshrined in the Belfast Agreement.”
Finally, there is nothing in our proposals (p. 18) “which would reduce our commitment to the Belfast Agreement, or which might jeopardise peace in Northern Ireland.”
I hope that this makes clear our total opposition to any border down the Irish Sea.
The Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP, House of Commons, London SW1