Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Michael Gove on the Northern Irish Protocol - House of Commons


Two days ago, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Minister for the Cabinet Office the Rt. Hon. Michael Gove MP made an extraordinary statement in the House of Commons. In his opening remarks he stated:

"Throughout 2020, we have worked intensively to ensure that the withdrawal agreement, in particular the Northern Ireland protocol, will be fully operational on 1 January 2021."

This is the Withdrawal Agreement which effectively partitions the UK and grants a foreign power legal rights in the UK's sovereign territory. Not only is the UK Government apparently still accepting this broken agreement, it seems that it has been working 'intensively' to implement it. As he went on, Mr Gove stated:

"The agreement also respects the protocol provisions, which were endorsed by Parliament, that allow some EU officials to be present at Northern Ireland ports as UK authorities carry out our own procedures."

In short, officials from a foreign power will have the right to be on British soil, supervising UK government officials. He then confirmed that the measures the Government had taken with the Interim Markets Bill to negate the power of the EU were now being withdrawn, as well as further UK protections which had been planned for the finance bill.

"Of course, the agreement we have reached also enables the Government to withdraw clauses 44, 45 and 47 of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill and avoids the need for any additional provisions in the Taxation (Post-transition Period) Bill."

Mr Gove was then asked questions - here's one from the Rt. Hon Dr Liam Fox MP:
Fox: "As it now stands, is there any part of the withdrawal agreement that requires direct application of EU law to any part of the UK?"
Gove: "Yes, it is the case that as a result of some of the provisions in the Northern Ireland protocol, there will be a requirement on some businesses in Northern Ireland specifically to follow the acquis."

The 'acquis' is the EU's body of laws, directives, and regulations. Mr Gove didn't say so, but these will also apply to businesses in England, Scotland and Wales in respect of state aid provisions.

Mr Gove was pressed on this point by Richard Drax MP:

Drax: "…my right hon. Friend has said on many occasions that we must leave together. In answering questions … he said—unless I am incorrect—that EU law will apply in Northern Ireland, as will the European Court of Justice. We have gone to all this effort to be free of those structures. Can he say whether I have got it wrong or he has got it wrong—one or the other?"
Gove: "My hon. Friend never gets it wrong, and he is right. It is there in the withdrawal agreement and in the protocol that we accept the acquis in a specific number of areas in Northern Ireland. That is part of the withdrawal agreement…"

Mr Gove's reply confirmed the case that EU law will apply in Northern Ireland. He was silent on the impact on businesses in mainland GB which export to NI. 

Font size: +

Related Posts

Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames