Northern Irish MPs shut out from Johnson’s Brexit committee

10th March 2020 / United Kingdom
Northern Irish MPs shut out from Johnson's Brexit committee

By TruePublica: At the DUP conference in late 2018, Boris Johnson unequivocally confirmed that “no British prime minister could ever accept a customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea” due to Brexit. His predecessor Theresa May said pretty much the same thing – “no U.K. prime minister could ever agree to it.”

For Theresa May to cling onto power after her disastrous snap-election call, she required the 10 seats from the DUP to prop up her government which cost the taxpayer £1billion. Northern Ireland has been very clear on its position – it is part of the UK and will not accept being treated as anything else.

There has never been any doubt from May or Johnson about this issue. Except, for Johnson, it was just another lie to get his Brexit deal through with the agreement of both the EU and eurosceptics in the Commons.

Northern Ireland would remain technically in a U.K. customs union,” said Heather Conley, the Europe program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, “but in actuality, it remains part of the EU customs union.”

Just last week, experts have dismissed claims by Scottish Secretary Alister Jack as pure fantasy that there will be no customs checks for goods crossing the Irish Sea under a Brexit free trade deal. Somehow, the Tory MP told MSPs last week he believed administrative processes for goods could be done electronically through a “smart border” even though one hasn’t been invented … anywhere in the world.

But now, in a new twist that stabs Northern Ireland in the back, the U.K. government has been accused of shutting out Northern Irish voices from the House of Commons committee that will scrutinize the Brexit talks.


Downing Street declined to comment, on the grounds that “it is a political matter” as if somehow ‘political matters’ are no longer allowed in the public domain.


Politico reports that – Of the 21 MPs appointed to the committee on the future relationship with the European Union, 12 are Conservatives, seven are from the Labour Party and two belong to the Scottish National Party. None of them represent constituencies in Northern Ireland.

The number of MPs from each party on the committee is based roughly on the makeup of parliament, but the details are largely negotiated by party whips behind closed doors. In the past, the Conservatives and Labour have given up seats to allow smaller parties to be represented.

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The committee will be the main venue for the British parliament to scrutinize the Brexit negotiations, since the government doesn’t plan on giving MPs a vote on any final deal agreed with the EU — and Northern Ireland is expected to feature high on its agenda, given the debate around how to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland.

“We weren’t offered a place in the new committee,” said Sammy Wilson, an MP from the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party, who sat on the committee in the last parliament (when it was called the committee for exiting the European Union) in place of a Conservative MP.

“This time the government wanted to have its own members in the committee because of the sensitivity of the ongoing negotiations and was not prepared to offer up any places,” Wilson said.

Downing Street declined to comment, on the grounds that “it is a political matter” as if somehow ‘political matters’ are no longer allowed in the public domain.


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