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[2nd day]

Part of European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 1:06 pm on 1st February 2017.

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Photo of George Osborne George Osborne Conservative, Tatton 1:06 pm, 1st February 2017

I will just finish my speech and then others can speak.

That is what the negotiation is going to be like. I suspect it will be rather bitter. I spent four years negotiating with Michel Barnier, and I advise my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union to be well briefed, as he always is, and to pack a packet of Pro Plus, because there will be many long nights ahead.

It is very important that in the bitterness of that discussion we do not forget that there are some fundamental reasons why Britain wanted to be part of a European Common Market in the first place; nor should we allow the Europeans to forget that there was a fundamental reason why they created a European Community, which was to bring the nations of Europe together. We must try to keep those thoughts and hopes alive as we exit the EU.

The final thing I want to say is this: we have made a decision to leave the EU and, as the successful leave campaign put it, to take back control, but that means a series of issues are going to come to this Parliament that completely divide Brexiteers from each other, remainers from each other, Conservatives from each other and members of other parties from each other. We are going to have very lively debates about free trade, as we are beginning to see at Prime Minister’s questions; these are debates about what kind of agricultural produce we want to allow into this country or the kind of public procurement contracts we want. We are going to have a very lively debate about immigration, how many people we want to let into this country, how we welcome skilled people into this country, and how we support our universities and scientific research institutions. We are going to have an argument about agricultural subsidies and whether we are happy for the poorest people in this country to pay taxes to support subsidies to some of the richest. We are also going to have an argument about state aid and whether we should be able to bail out failing commercial enterprises. I will be in those fights in the couple of years ahead.