Wednesday, 6 Jul 2022

‘Which border?’ Marr puts Labour MP on spot over protocol ‘It’s a very clear question!’

Andrew Marr quizzes Yvette Cooper on Northern Ireland Protocol

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Labour Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper was confronted on the Northern Ireland conundrum and the issue of setting up an international customs border either on the island of Ireland or in the Irish Sea. The Brexit issue has been on top of the agenda since Northern Ireland’s election last month when the DUP refused to form a coalition with the now largest party in power, Sinn Fein, amid concerns over the Irish Sea border. The unionists fear a customs border in the Irish Sea would further distance them from Great Britain. However, setting up a border between the two Ireland would go against the Good Friday Agreement and would likely trigger political instability.

LBC’s radio host Andrew Marr put the issue to Yvette Cooper: “Do you accept that there has to be a border either on the island of Ireland or there has to be a sea border? And given the problems of a border in the border of Ireland, which we both understand, you would go for a sea border.”

Labour MP Yvette Cooper squirmed: “So, I think the whole point about trying to do things like the veterinary agreement is that this is a way of trying to lift some of the red tapes.”

Mr Marr cut her off, saying between chuckles: “I’m asking about which border. I’m asking a very clear question.”

Ms Cooper answered: “You’re actually trying to rerun some of the debates that we had several years ago and are done now.  What we have to do now is work out what is the best forward from here. And one of those answers is about doing things like Veteran agreement and so on.”

Mr Marr insisted: “But you keep those in the context of a sea border.”

Mr Cooper then said: “You do this in the context of having a good working relationship with other European countries. And the point is now, look we’re outside the EU. But of course, geographically, we still have the EU as a close trading partner like Ukraine, like Russia. We’re part of Europe; we are not part of the EU.

“But that means we can build that sort of relationship, not just with European neighbours but also with other countries across the world in a positive way.

When asked about the possibility of the UK re-joining the EU’s single market, Ms Cooper said: “So, we’re gone. We’ve done that. That is done.”

Mr Marr interjected: “Wouldn’t we be better off than we are now?”

Mr Cooper continued: “We’ve had Covid and a series of other things since then. We’ve left the single market. We have left the European Union. And that is done. So now, the issue now is, what is the future for Britain in the world.”

Labour leader Keir Starmer told LBC that his party would not re-join the single market. UK exporters have been struggling with Brexit red tape to get their goods into the EU since the Brexit deal came into force in January 2021.

“So, if there’s no going back to the single market, what is your answer to those exporters struggling?”, Mr Marr asked.

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Ms Cooper proposed the veterinary agreement to cut some Brexit red tapes like controls on animals, plants and food in a bid to build closer relations with European partners.

She continued: “And I just don’t think Boris Johnson or his government are doing that. But there is a reason. The main thing you keep talking about all day is about the vote that happened yesterday, about that sort of Conservative party’s failure to take action to solve the mess that the government is in now, to get rid of Boris Johnson.

“They’ve chosen to keep him in place. And it means they’re polarising themselves and they’re not listening to people right across the country who are incredibly frustrated and incredibly angry that this man who is not fit for office is still holding the country back, is still carrying on, still ignoring what everybody thinks of ignoring the rules.”

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