Parliamentary oversight of negotiations

Part of Informal European Council – in the House of Commons at 8:15 pm on 6th February 2017.

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Photo of Julian Knight Julian Knight Conservative, Solihull 8:15 pm, 6th February 2017

I will keep my comments brief as I am aware of the shortage of time. I was for remain in the referendum mainly because of the potential for short and medium-term economic dislocation, particularly within my constituency, which is likely to have among the highest trade surpluses with the EU, mostly off the bonnet of the Jaguar Land Rover cars that we sell into the single market. The debate was lost, and I still think we face difficult times ahead.

I believe in free trade. We have to strike out as best we can, but it will be tough in a world of growing protectionism. When we leave the EU, the key is to make the best possible deal. For me, that does not mean having membership of the single market. During the referendum campaign and for years before, the message on the doorsteps was loud and clear: no freedom of movement. People do not want freedom of movement, but the single market comes with that requirement so that is off the table straightaway, as the Prime Minister has made clear.

The difficulty with being in the customs union is that we would not be able to have our own trade deals with the rest of the world. We would be hamstrung. The European economic area, customs unions and single market membership are antechambers to entering the EU. We are leaving the EU. We are a country of 65 million people with a sophisticated, large economy, so it is completely inappropriate to have that type of model. We need our own model, and any attempts to frustrate that with amendments or to make the Government expose their hand too early will damage our negotiations.