Shailesh Vara congratulates the Prime Minister on the Windsor framework agreement on post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland and highlights the critical role of the ‘Stormont brake’ and asks if, for some reason Stormont was not sitting, there is a default mechanism if the Stormont brake cannot be exercised.
I associate myself with my right hon. Friend’s comments concerning Betty Boothroyd and DCI Caldwell—we all wish him a speedy recovery.
I congratulate my right hon. Friend, along with his entire negotiating team, on the massive strides that he has been able to make on this complex and difficult issue. I, for one, wish him well with this agreement. The Stormont brake is critical to the agreement. I am particularly pleased that it represents cross-party consensus. Leaving aside the current reasons why Stormont is not sitting, the Prime Minister will be aware that in the past, Stormont has not sat for other reasons used by one or other party. If that were to be the case in the future, is there a default mechanism if the Stormont brake cannot be exercised?
I thank my right hon. Friend for his support and for the advice that he has provided to me and the team. This is obviously an area that he knows well from his own experience, and we very much valued his input. The Stormont brake is there to be exercised by the Stormont institution. A precondition for its use is that the institution is up and running, and that is what everyone in this House wants to see. That is another good reason to get the institutions up and running: so that sovereignty can be restored to Northern Ireland. I look forward to discussing with the parties how the brake should work, but it is important that we get the institution up and running so that people in Northern Ireland have the representation that they need. The Windsor framework delivers that ability, but it is ultimately for the people and parties in Northern Ireland to take it forward.