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Budget Resolutions - Amendment of the Law

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:56 pm on 13th March 2017.

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Photo of Boris Johnson Boris Johnson Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 6:56 pm, 13th March 2017

With great trepidation, I must correct the right hon. Gentleman. We travelled abroad together and both spoke the same sort of language at the time. Alas, Mike Gapes revealed the profoundest misunderstanding—let me put it no higher than that—of the exact state of the British Council’s finances. That was regrettable and worth correcting.

Thanks to my right hon. Friend the Chancellor, we are able to continue to support an active global Britain through the Budget, but there is of course much more to be done. Once we leave the EU, the Government will—we will all—regain a power that this country has not been able to deploy for 44 years, and that is the ability to conclude free trade agreements. The first and most important of those deals will be with our friends and partners in the EU. As the Prime Minister has repeatedly said, we are leaving the EU but we are not leaving Europe. To those who seriously doubt that we can pull it off in the next two years, let me remind them of the most essential point—that deal is profoundly in the interests of our friends and partners on the other side of the channel, who have a massive net balance of trade with us. They are optimistic. They are determined. I sometimes wish that we could have a little more of the same spirit from the Labour party.