The Government of the United Kingdom will always work in the best interests of Northern Ireland. That means working towards a balanced arrangement in Northern Ireland which supports the Belfast / Good Friday Agreement in all its dimensions: the historic 1998 agreement which led to peace in Northern Ireland.
Currently, the Northern Ireland protocol is failing to deliver what it was designed to do and this is putting the Good Friday Agreement under strain. The protocol is causing unacceptable disruption to trade and has created a two-tier system where people in Northern Ireland are not being treated in the same way as everyone else in the UK. Furthermore, the Northern Ireland Executive has not been fully functioning since early February because the Protocol does not have the support necessary in one part of the community in Northern Ireland.
Clearly a negotiated solution to the problems of the protocol is preferable in the interests of everyone on the island of Ireland, and these negotiations are currently taking place. I was glad that the Minister agreed with me on this. Unfortunately, everyone remembers the chaos caused by the previous Parliament trying to tie the Government's hands (and essentially support the EU) over Brexit negotiations.
Parliament should not circumscribe our negotiating position, as that would only weaken our negotiating position with the EU, and make a worse deal for the UK and the people of Northern Ireland more likely.
I will be supporting the Government in their negotiations so we can resolve the issues, re-establish the Executive and preserve the hard-won peace sustained by the Good Friday Agreement.