Pete Wishart – 2020 Speech on the Northern Ireland Protocol

Below is the text of the speech made by Pete Wishart, the SNP MP for Perth and North Perthshire, in the House of Commons on 20 May 2020.

Ninety seconds? Thank you, Madam Deputy Speaker.

Today, we seem to be presented with another episode of Schrödinger’s border—one that is both there and not quite there, all dependent on what side of the EU negotiations a person happens to be on. UK Ministers ​have repeatedly said that there will be no border or any checks down the Irish Sea. We now know that that is not exactly the case, as we heard in the last response. From the very beginning, the possibility of that was crystal clear given what is in the withdrawal agreement and the need for a level playing field between the EU and Northern Ireland. We all know that there will be customs checks between the rest of the UK and Northern Ireland, so why do the UK Government not just acknowledge that fact? The EU has said that there must be the introduction of customs procedures and formalities in Northern Ireland for all goods traded between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.

There have been no discussions about this with the Scottish Government, even though we will be placed at a competitive disadvantage with Northern Ireland because of these arrangements. We would give our national right hand to have the arrangements and competitive advantage that Northern Ireland will have, so why can we not get some of this if Northern Ireland does not want it?

These negotiations need skill, guile and dexterity, and I think we have seen again today a Government who are singularly not up to it.