Why has the Prime Minister never chaired British-Irish Council?

Recent Disorder: Northern Ireland
21st April 2021

Kevin Brennan Labour, Cardiff West

The Secretary of State is right: dialogue is important, as are inter-Government relations between the UK and Ireland. It is a vital part of upholding the Belfast/Good Friday agreement and managing tension that leads to disorder, so why has the British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference never met under this Prime Minister, and why has the Prime Minister never chaired the British-Irish Council? Can he commit that he will chair the next meeting, whether it is in June or sooner, as it should be?

Photo of Brandon Lewis Brandon Lewis The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland
The British-Irish Council has never ceased to meet regularly and has always been chaired in the same way. The conversations are ongoing between ourselves and the Irish Government. Even over the last few weeks, whether that has been with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney or the Prime Minister talking to the Taoiseach, that engagement has been ongoing and will continue, because we are partners working together, with a long relationship—a positive relationship—that is of benefit to the people of the Republic of Ireland and the whole of the UK.