Her Majesty’s Government

Full text: Theresa May’s ‘unilateral declaration’ on the Northern Ireland backstop

Declaration by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland concerning the Northern Ireland Protocol

The United Kingdom reiterates its wish to establish a future partnership that is as close and strong as possible, given the global challenges it shares with the European Union, and underlines its commitment to embark on preparations immediately after the signature of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure that negotiations on the future relationship can start as soon as possible after withdrawal. In that light, the United Kingdom notes, subject to Article 1(4) of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, that the objective of the Withdrawal Agreement is not to establish a permanent relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom, and that the provisions of the Protocol are therefore intended to apply only temporarily, taking into account the commitments of the Parties set out in Article 2(1). The preamble to the Protocol further recalls that the Withdrawal Agreement, which is based on Article 50 TEU, does not aim at establishing a permanent future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom wishes to record its understanding of the effect of this provision if, contrary to the intentions of the parties, it is not possible for them to conclude an agreement which supersedes the Protocol in whole or in part due to a breach of Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement by the Union. The United Kingdom would not consider its application to be temporary in these circumstances, as in its view the Protocol would then constitute a permanent relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom. Article 1(4) makes clear this is not the Parties’ intention. If under these circumstances it proves not to be possible to negotiate a subsequent agreement as envisaged in Article 2 of the Protocol, the United Kingdom records its understanding that nothing in the Withdrawal Agreement would prevent it from instigating measures that could ultimately lead to disapplication of obligations under the Protocol, in accordance with Part Six, Title III of the Withdrawal Agreement or Article 20 of the Protocol, and under the proviso that the UK will uphold its obligations under the 1998 Agreement in all its dimensions and under all circumstances and to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

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