The Government has been very clear since the UK decided to leave the EU that we are committed to protecting the Good Friday Agreement and the gains of the peace process, including protecting the all-island economy and avoiding the emergence of a hard border on the island of Ireland. I welcome the strong support of all parties for this approach. Those objectives are delivered by the Withdrawal Agreement. It, including the backstop, is the only solution currently on the table that delivers the outcomes that everyone, including the UK, wants to achieve.
In the absence of the Withdrawal Agreement, there are no easy solutions. As the recent Brexit Contingency Action Plan Update says, “there should be no illusion – a no deal Brexit would result in far-reaching change on the island of Ireland”.
The Government is working closely with the European Commission to meet the shared twin objectives of protecting the Single Market and Ireland’s place in it, and avoiding a hard border, including physical infrastructure. This continuing engagement is focused on delivering those shared objectives.
Ongoing engagement with stakeholders, including at sectorial level, is an important pillar of the Government’s domestic response. At the most recent Brexit Stakeholders Forum, which I chaired on 10 July, I updated representatives of key sectors, including exporters and businesses of all sizes, on the ongoing work across Government, and at EU level, to mitigate against the worst effects of Brexit.