Not quite so discontented yet


The Windsor Framework isn’t just good news for businesses, says MP Simon Hoare. It shows a return to adult politics and better relationships

Simon Hoare MP
Simon Hoare MP

I am sure many of you are slightly weary of news, comment and discussion of the Northern Ireland Protocol. You will, I hope, forgive me for taking a keen interest in this matter. As chairman of the Northern Ireland Affairs Select Committee, it slightly goes with the territory.
We have just had the announcement of the Windsor Framework – the updated and revised operational requirements of the Protocol. The changes which have been agreed are excellent news for the people and economy of Northern Ireland. They are also good news for those businesses across the UK, including here in North Dorset, who sell to Northern Ireland.

The side effects
However, there are some other benefits to this week’s announcements which I believe are worth highlighting.
The first is that it begins a new volume in the relationship of the UK and the EU.
We have left the EU but too many people were picking at the scab that wanted to heal. Windsor cauterises the wound.
The UK remains an European country. Our nearest and largest trading market is Europe. The horrors of Ukraine have broadly united European countries not just in collective condemnation but collegiate actions.
This, of itself, has served as a reminder of our shared principles and values. With this improved relationship, I think we can have legitimate expectations that we are in a better place with the French government and that a more collaborative approach to breaking the Channel people traffickers is in prospect. Membership of Horizon is also there for the taking – of strategic benefit to our strong and growing pharmaceutical, technological and scientific communities. This will help ‘Europe plc’ face into the powerful competition of Asia and the US.
With that newly-forged relationship also lies the hope that it will be easier for musicians and artists to be able to perform across the EU without recourse to the current visa bureaucracy.

Grown up politics
All of the above are placed within touching distance simply by resolving the Protocol issues. Now, we must not fall into the trap of believing that was inevitable. It wasn’t.
It took the new type of politics of the government and the Prime Minister. Gone is the bellicose, flippant, impatient cakeism, to be replaced by the calm and the respectful. The magic ingredient in politics – as in so much else in life – is trust. No trust; no progress. Recent events have only been able to come about because mutual respect, politeness, seriousness of purpose, attention to detail and calm advocacy have been restored. Improved Anglo-Irish and Anglo-French relations were prerequisites for progress and Rishi Sunak and his ministers quickly saw these as pivotal actions upon which they have delivered. The dropping of the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill, which rode a coach and horses through our international legal obligations, is another important step in restoring the UK’s reputation as being a country that keeps its words. That longstanding and hard-earned reputation is a vital foundation stone of the City of London and our place as a leading global financial centre which, of itself, contributes such a lot to the Treasury and the funding of our public services.

Manners maketh
Now, I supported Rishi Sunak from the get-go, so of course I could be accused of some bias. However I think even the most sceptical observer would have to admit that his seriousness of purpose, his politeness and his attention to detail can and will pay dividends for our country. As one of my American political friends said to me recently: ‘it’s so good to have the UK we all know, love and respect back in the room.’


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