Petition Trigger Article 16. We want unfettered GB-NI Trade.
Her Majesty's Government must immediately remove any impediment or barrier to unfettered trade within the United Kingdom.
After just one month, Northern Ireland is suffering real economic and societal difficulties as a consequence of the Northern Ireland Protocol operating and creating new barriers to unfettered trade within the United Kingdom and disrupting supply lines of goods to Northern Ireland.
The Government should use all the powers it has to move urgently to protect UK trade and to ensure all UK goods and produce can freely flow to and from every part of the United Kingdom.
Parliament debated this topic
This topic was debated on 22 February 2021
This response was given on 22 February 2021
The UK is working to address outstanding issues with the Protocol - putting the interests of the people of Northern Ireland first, and considering all avenues necessary to do so.
The Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland was agreed as a unique solution to the issues arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. It aims at upholding the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement in all its aspects; safeguarding Northern Ireland’s integral place in the United Kingdom, its customs territory and internal market; and preventing a hard border on the island of Ireland.
In order to do so, it must be given effect in a pragmatic and proportionate way: one which effectively implements the guarantee in the Protocol itself of unfettered access from Northern Ireland to the rest of the United Kingdom, and which maintains the effective flow of trade from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.
This has been the basis on which the UK Government has and will continue to give effect to its obligations under the Protocol: providing the basis for goods to move effectively between Great Britain and Northern Ireland; and providing extensive support to traders, for example through the Trader Support Service and Movement Assistance Scheme, to adapt to new requirements. In particular, working closely with businesses and individuals right across Northern Ireland, steps have been taken to address issues that emerged after 1 January this year, for example practical mitigations on groupage; on steel movements; and to maintain the operation of the VAT margin scheme.
On 29 January, however, the EU’s invocation of Article 16 and attempt to impose processes related to the border on the island of Ireland, however quickly withdrawn and replaced, caused shock and anger right across Northern Ireland and indeed beyond. This has significantly undermined the operation of the Protocol and cross community confidence in it.
It is therefore right and urgent that steps are taken to address concerns raised about the operation of the Protocol. This is necessary to restore confidence and reflect the commitment in the Protocol itself to ensure that its application should impact as little as possible on the everyday life of communities in Ireland and Northern Ireland.
Having underscored the need for action, work is now under way with the EU with the shared objective of dealing with the impact of the decisions taken on 29 January and of finding workable solutions to the ongoing problems. A meeting of the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee will be convened on 24 February to provide the necessary political steer and approval to this work. The Joint Committee co-chairs also held meetings with business and civic society on 18 February where they heard a wide range of views to inform their discussions.
The UK Government has and will continue to listen very carefully to voices across Northern Ireland through direct engagements with the Northern Ireland Executive, business and civil society.
As we have set out publicly, the UK will always consider all instruments at our disposal, including invoking Article 16 if necessary, to protect the interests of the people of Northern Ireland and safeguard the effective movement of goods, people, services and capital throughout the United Kingdom.
Other parliamentary business
E-petition session on the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland
On Monday 22 February the Petitions Committee will hold a virtual e-petition session to discuss the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland.
MPs will discuss the issue in light of the petition you have signed calling for the Government to remove barriers to trade within the United Kingdom. A Minister will respond for the Government.
Watch live from 4.30pm on Monday 22 February:
Petition sessions and debates are an opportunity for MPs to discuss the important issues raised by petitions, however they cannot directly change the law or result in a vote to implement the request of the petition.
This petition is being considered in an e-petition session because sittings in Westminster Hall (where e-petitions are normally debated) have been suspended as part of Parliament’s arrangements for adapting to the Coronavirus outbreak.
Urgent Question in the House of Commons on the Northern Ireland Protocol
On Tuesday 26 January there was an Urgent Question put to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland about the Government’s unilateral action on the Northern Ireland protocol.
You can watch the response from Priti Patel MP, the Home Secretary, and further questions on the topic here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/69416d0c-bcc0-428a-acb5-2cc9d08169b2?in=12:38:58
You can read the transcript here: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-03-10/debates/0618A5B6-2354-4951-9C85-099F27392E24/NorthernIrelandProtocol
What is an Urgent Question?
If an urgent or important matter arises which an MP believes requires an immediate answer from a government minister, they may apply to ask an urgent question.
Find out more about Urgent Questions here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/urgent-questions/
MPs examine Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol
A group of MPs called the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is investigating how the Northern Ireland Protocol is affecting Northern Ireland.
The Protocol, which came into effect on 1 January 2021, provides a framework for the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland after Brexit.
On Wednesday 17 March, the MPs will question representatives of the retail and hospitality sectors about how the Protocol is affecting consumers and small businesses. This is the latest of several sessions the Committee has held since 1 January, as part of the Committee's wider inquiry into the impact of the Protocol.
Watch the Committee's session live from 9.30am on Wednesday:
Find out more about the Committee's inquiry on its website:
Follow the Committee on Twitter for updates: @CommonsNIAC
What is the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee?
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is a group of MPs which examines the spending and policies of the UK Government's Northern Ireland Office. It's a cross-party committee and is independent of the Government.
You can find out more about the Committee on the UK Parliament website:
The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee is a ‘select committee’. Find out how Select Committees work:
MPs to debate the Northern Ireland Protocol
On Thursday 15 July, MPs will take part in a Backbench Business Debate on a motion relating to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The debate will be led by Sir Bernard Jenkin MP.
Watch the debate (after 11.30am on Thurs 15 July, following the introduction of a Ten Minute Rule Bill relating to Tibet and Xinjiang): https://www.parliamentlive.tv/Event/Index/b611720b-8a2d-42e0-818d-d4edeca33cd7
A transcript will be published here, within a few hours of the debate ending: https://hansard.parliament.uk/commons/2021-07-15
What is a Backbench Business Debate?
Backbench MPs can apply for a debate on a topic of their choosing through the cross-party Backbench Business Committee. These debates take place in the main House of Commons Chamber or Westminster Hall.
Find out more about the Backbench Business Committee: https://committees.parliament.uk/committee/202/backbench-business-committee/
Government announces details of the UK's proposed approach on the Northern Ireland Protocol
On Monday 19 July, MPs questioned Brandon Lewis, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, on the Government’s approach to the Northern Ireland Protocol, following a ministerial statement.
The Minister stated that the Protocol had been the source of considerable and ongoing disruption to lives and livelihoods, and that the Government would bring forward plans to find a "new balance", that ensures goods can circulate more freely within the UK customs territory, while ensuring that full processes are applied to goods destined for the EU.
Watch the Government statement and MPs' questions: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/9a26f78c-9111-4757-8db8-29c04e4e8586?in=12:53:16
You can read further details of the UK's proposed approach on the Protocol here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/northern-ireland-protocol-next-steps
What is a ministerial statement?
Ministerial statements are a way for Ministers to bring an important matter to the attention of MPs, often at short notice. You can find out more about them here: https://www.parliament.uk/about/how/business/statements/
Ministers are the MPs and members of the House of Lords who are in the Government. They are appointed by the Prime Minister and each given a specific area of government policy to oversee, for example education, health and social care, or national defence. Some senior Ministers are also referred to as Secretaries of State. Ministers speak on behalf of the Government during parliamentary debates and must answer questions put to them by other MPs or members of the House of Lords.