Every single line and paragraph of Withdrawal Agreement Bill should be scrutinised and open to amendment - Aiken

Ulster Unionist Party Chief Whip, Steve Aiken MLA, has stated that time should be allocated in Parliament for every single line and paragraph of Mr Johnson`s Withdrawal Agreement Bill to be thoroughly scrutinised.

Steve Aiken MLA said:

“The comments from the Secretary of State at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee today demonstrate that confusion is the order of the day in the Johnson Government in their haste to deliver Brexit at any cost, including jettisoning Northern Ireland into the orbit of the European Union if necessary. Even a cursory glance at NISRA’s statistics, or even the NI Civil Service`s own commissioned impact study, would highlight the absolute folly of Mr Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill.

“On one hand the Interim Chief Executive of HMRC, Jim Harra, told the Treasury Committee on Tuesday that it was ‘impossible to be definitive’ because everything had to be agreed with the EU; then later the same day we heard the Prime Minister refer to ‘light touch measures’ in the House of Commons; and then today we had the Secretary of State saying that the Government would put ‘protective clauses’ in the legislation.

“The Secretary of State is no doubt a man of good intentions, but how can you put ‘protective clauses’ in legislation if you don`t know what the processes are in the first place and the head of HMRC is making very clear that anything they do will have to be agreed by the EU at the outset? At this stage of the process, it`s simply not credible to believe that the economic and constitutional damage that will be done to Northern Ireland`s place within the Union by the Prime Minister`s deal will be undone by what is being proposed. It emphasises the need for thorough scrutiny of every single line and paragraph of the Prime Minister`s deal, providing opportunity for amendment by those who do have Northern Ireland`s best interests at heart.”

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