Sammy Wilson – 2020 Speech on EU Negotiations

Below is the text of the speech made by Sammy Wilson, the DUP MP in East Antrim, in the House of Commons on 4 June 2020.

May I say at the very start that we support the Government in getting this deal done by the end of this year, and in honouring the commitment that has been made, including in manifestos to the people of the UK?

I could rehearse the things that we in Northern Ireland want to see undone in this withdrawal agreement. Of course, it is most damaging to the Northern Ireland economy and Northern Ireland businesses—it puts burdens on them and puts additional administrative checks on them—and, indeed, it leaves Northern Ireland open to anti-competitive dumping by EU countries. However, I want to widen this today. Many people see the Northern Ireland protocol as something that simply affects Northern Ireland: “It was unfortunate; we had to do it; we had to get a deal through; we don’t like parts of it, but given the special circumstances, it was the best we could do.” The point of the Northern Ireland protocol is this: it is the back door through which the EU is going to continue to undermine the sovereignty of this Parliament.​

The Minister congratulated the hon. Member for Stone (Sir William Cash) on the fact that he has worked tirelessly to restore the sovereignty of this House. This withdrawal agreement and the protocol undermine and continue to undermine the sovereignty of this House. It does that through article 10 of the Northern Ireland protocol, which insists that the state aid rules will apply not to Northern Ireland, as paragraph 40 of the Government’s Command Paper suggests, but to the United Kingdom as a whole. Any state aid that the Government of the United Kingdom give to any firm that trades in Northern Ireland, as this therefore has an effect on possible trade by those firms through Northern Ireland into the rest of the EU, will be subject to EU laws, and the final adjudication on that, according to article 12 of the Northern Ireland protocol, will be by the European Court of Justice.

Let me give an example about any support that the Government give. Nissan has been mentioned today. If the Government decide they are going to help Nissan to develop battery cars, as Nissan sells cars in Northern Ireland, other car makers in Europe could challenge that, and the final adjudication on it will be not in the British courts, but in the European Court of Justice. That could extend to almost any activity, and for that reason it is important, if the Government are to live up to the commitment in the third part of their motion, that they address the withdrawal agreement. In the Command Paper, they see the withdrawal agreement as temporary anyway. They see it going along with a future trade arrangement.

Sir William Cash

Did my right hon. Friend notice the remarks that I made at the end of my speech with respect to the question of the Northern Ireland protocol?

Sammy Wilson

I did, and I appreciated the point that was made. It is important that this is revisited, and not just for the good of the economy and businesses in Northern Ireland. It is essential that it is addressed for the sovereignty of this Parliament and for the freedom of this Government to use fiscal policy, monetary policy and any kind of state support policy for the whole of the United Kingdom.

There is hardly a business in GB that does not trade with Northern Ireland, so either they do not invest in or do not trade in Northern Ireland, or else they will find that they are subject to EU laws, and any Government policy addressed to them would be perceived as giving an advantage. By the way, that advantage only has to be theoretical, according to EU law. The effect does not have to be real, it does not have to affect sales—in theory, it does have to affect sales—and it does not have to be substantial; it can be a very small proportion of help or a very small proportion of the market. This is a huge foot in the door.

I say to the Government that, during the scrutiny of and in the reports on this, we want to see what has been done. The withdrawal agreement must not be seen as set in stone if the Government, in their own Command Paper, see it as temporary anyway, albeit with the consent of the Northern Ireland Assembly. They also have to address the issue of how the withdrawal agreement impacts on sovereignty and on the ability of this Government to conduct their own economic policy in the United Kingdom.