Diary - crossed wires in EU debate

An early start for another week, which promises to be interesting. We had the EU Withdrawal Bill again today and that was due to last to the early hours, and did! However, alarm bells began ringing just after 1300 when I heard it announced on Radio 4 that a deal had been struck between the North and South of Ireland which, in short, meant that N Ireland would be answerable to EU law despite the fact the rest of the UK was leaving. The Government is trying to maintain an open border and those in the South are making this an issue which is playing right into the hands of the Remainers. They claim that if N Ireland stays in, then the rest of the UK should too. It's not perhaps quite as simple as I've described it, perhaps, but that would be the outcome. Personally, I could not believe that our PM would agree to anything that broke the integrity of UK borders, which must clearly be the same. Enough confusion was sown to cause a flurry of telephone calls and meetings to ensure the PM had not gone down this divisive road. Fortunately, it turned out she had not. In the meantime, we had SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon screaming that what was good enough for N Ireland was good enough for Scotland. A similar squeak came from the Mayor of London. Both had jumped the gun. Meanwhile, our partners, the DUP, were being briefed by the Government, a matter that should have been done from the outset. At 1530 I had a confidential meeting with Ian Duncan Smith and a number of colleagues about the EU's intention to form a European army. This is worrying and has implications for us and for NATO, none of the them good. The committee stage of the Bill continued until about 0020, when there were three votes. Then it was home for a late can of beans!