Kate Hoey claims Brexit bill opponents 'stabbing people of Northern Ireland in the back'

Kate Hoey in the House of Lords

Kate Hoey in the House of Lords - Credit: Parliament Live

Brexiteer Kate Hoey has claimed that opponents of Boris Johnson's Internal Market bill - which would override international law - are stabbing "in the back of the people of Northern Ireland".

The former Labour MP urged peers to ignore the comments of president-elect Joe Biden, claiming the original Brexit deal has "sold out" the people of Northern Irish communities.

She said: "Over the four years since the referendum, I have been surprised and shocked by some of the ignorance spoken about the Belfast agreement. I sometimes wonder whether people have actually read it.

"It is a fact that many who disliked the referendum result used the Belfast agreement to try to make it more difficult for the government by continually promoting the idea that the agreement said that there could be no trade checks at the border. Of course, this was wrong; the agreement made no mention of trade borders."

She continued: "Unfortunately, whether by accident or design, or because of the pressure from the Irish government, the people of Northern Ireland have, in plain words, been sold out. I believe that the way in which the fears of a hard border were deliberately escalated meant that the EU was delighted."

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She insisted that those supporting the Brexit deal were causing a border in the Irish Sea, and that the new bill needed to resolve the issue.

She told the House of Lords: "How can any of your Lordships think that creating a trade border down the Irish Sea between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom is protecting the Belfast agreement when the one border — the key and crucial border — recognised in the agreement is that between Northern Ireland, as part of the UK, and the Republic of Ireland, as a foreign country? How can one go against the Belfast agreement while we all have to accept the other and say that it is wonderful?"

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And she claimed that sovereignty means countries can override international law.

"If parliamentary sovereignty means anything, it must mean that parliament can enact legislation that breaches international law on some occasions. Ministers must be free to recommend this to Parliament. I know that lawyers hate this, but the sovereignty of parliament is supreme, and no country can be bound for ever by an international law. Political judgment has to be used as to when it might be necessary, but I would ​have thought that standing up for part of the United Kingdom when an action is going to harm it is such a necessity."

And she said peers must stand up for the interests of their own country rather than concerning themselves with the comments of the president-elect Joe Biden.

She explained: "To take out these clauses now would be a further stab in the back of the people of Northern Ireland. To say, as some noble Lords have, that we must remove them to please the new US president is something I believe will shock decent people in the real world outside this House. First and foremost, we must stand up for our own country."

Northern Ireland voted 56% to 44% to Remain in the European Union in June 2016.

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