Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Seema MalhotraMain Page: Seema Malhotra (Labour (Co-op)) - Feltham and Heston)
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Let me make it clear: the United Kingdom is the United Kingdom, it includes Northern Ireland and there is no circumstance in which the Government of this country, and certainly not a Conservative Government, will ever leave Northern Ireland behind, subject to the obligations under the Belfast agreement. That has been proposed, as my hon. Friend knows. It has been proposed that we should have a termination right for GB only and the Prime Minister explained why that was unacceptable.
It does make perfect sense. I have to say that I would have preferred to have seen a right of termination, mitigated and graduated, fairly balancing and apportioning risk, and only useable in a last resort, but the Union was not willing to agree to such a reasonable—and what I considered to be moderate—proposal. I agree with the hon. Lady, which is why I voted for the deal. It is sensible that that assurance can be given, and that is why the British Government have given it. I would say, though, that best endeavours is not—particularly now, with the context heightened and the benchmarks tightened—a meaningless duty, because best endeavours requires that a party should consider proposals that are contrary to its interests, and it may have to accept them. A party cannot go on refusing something that requires a reasonable adjustment in its position.