Rt Hon Lord Lilley

    Lord Lilley:

    Does my noble friend recall that the one proposal that won majority support in the House of Commons was the Brady amendment to replace the Irish protocol by an invisible Irish border? Since then, Mr Barnier, Mr Tusk and Mr Varadkar have all said that, in the event that we leave without a deal, there will be an invisible Irish border. More recently, the current chairman of the CDU and future chancellor, AKK—potentially the most powerful woman in Europe —has said that nobody in Europe would stand in the way if we asked for a few extra days to negotiate an invisible border in Ireland. Why are the Government not pursuing the Brady amendment, or the Malthouse compromise, which I understand has never been put to the European Commission, or taking up the idea suggested by AKK? Do we think that our views of what the Europeans will do are more relevant than hers?

    Baroness Evans of Bowes Park:

    We have consistently sought to change the withdrawal agreement and make changes to the backstop. The Prime Minister, following the passing of the Brady amendment, sought further changes and, as result of those conversations, on 11 March, a package was agreed which was put into a joint interpretive instrument and supplement to the political declaration. This was formally approved by the European Council on 22 March, so the Prime Minister did indeed, following that vote in the House of Commons, achieve changes to the backstop. Of course, we have also agreed with the EU to consider a joint work stream to develop alternative arrangements, which was one of the elements of the Malthouse compromise that my noble friend talked about, to ensure the absence of a hard border in Northern Ireland. So we have indeed been working to achieve the things that the House of Commons requested in the Brady amendment.