The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland: Government Response to the Committee’s Second Report

Fourth Special Report

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee published its Second Report of Session 2017–19, The land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (HC 329), on 16 March 2018. The Government’s response was received on 5 June 2018 and is appended below.

In the Government response the Committee’s recommendations are shown in bold type; the Government’s response is shown in plain type.

Letter from the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, 5 June 2018

I wish to thank you and your Committee for your considered report on the land border between Northern Ireland and Ireland (published on 16 March 2018). Please accept my apologies for the slight delay in issuing this response.

The Prime Minister has been very clear that the Government is committed to upholding the Belfast Agreement and avoiding a hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. She has also set out that it would be unacceptable to break up the United Kingdom’s own common market by creating a customs border down the Irish Sea. The Joint Report between the UK and the EU sets out our plan to address Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances and the border in the context of a wider UK-EU deep and special partnership. That is the right approach – we want a deal that works for all parts of the UK, whilst recognising Northern Ireland’s unique circumstances.

The Joint Report also outlines our commitments in a range of areas addressed in your report. It confirms our shared commitment to avoid a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland and to ensure the same unfettered access for Northern Ireland’s businesses to the whole of the United Kingdom internal market. It outlines our commitment to avoid any physical infrastructure or related checks and controls on the border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. It sets out a shared understanding that the Common Travel Area, to which the UK and Irish Governments are fully committed, will be protected as the UK leaves the EU. And it acknowledges the importance of recognising the birth right of all the people of Northern Ireland to choose to be Irish or British, or both, to be accepted as such, and for people of Northern Ireland who are Irish citizens to continue to enjoy rights as EU citizens, including where they reside in Northern Ireland.

The response attached attends to each of your recommendations in more detail.

Rt Hon Karen Bradley MP

Published: 15 June 2018