Following the Government statement on the UK’s commitment to its legal obligations under the Northern Ireland protocol, Sir Iain Duncan Smith highlights a clause in the EU (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020 in which the Government reserved the right to make clarifications and urges the Government to dispute the EU interpretation that state aid rules would be extended to Great Britain.
I wonder if my right hon. Friend recalls that in clause 38—the sovereignty clause—of the Act that gave effect to the withdrawal agreement the Government reserved to themselves the right to make clarifications. Given that, and given that when the protocol was signed, the Government recognised that state aid rules would apply to Northern Ireland, their extension to the rest of the Great Britain is an interpretation by the EU, and the Government are quite within their rights to dispute that interpretation and use clause 38 to explain that they do not agree with that and will not implement such an agreement.
My right hon. Friend has spoken about these issues over the last year or so and has been clear about his position, and he is absolutely right. The UK internal market Bill will make clear what will apply in January if we cannot reach a satisfactory and mutually suitable conclusions through the specialised Joint Committee and the wider free trade agreement. It is reasonable and sensible for the Government to give that certainty and clarity to businesses and people in Northern Ireland, which in itself will ensure that we abide by and deliver on the Good Friday agreement by ensuring that there will be no borders between east and west and north and south. He is also absolutely right that Great Britain will not be subject to EU rules in a state aid area while recognising the unique position of Northern Ireland.