Clearly, since last year’s convergence programme debate there has been a momentous change in the UK’s relationship with the European Union. The article 50 process is now under way and the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. There cannot, as some suggest, be any turning back from that. In accordance with the outcome of the referendum, we are leaving the European Union and will make our own decisions, take control of the things that matter to us and seize every opportunity to build a stronger and fairer Britain.
Given our decision to leave, some Members might find it odd that we are debating the UK’s convergence programme here today. It is right that we should do so, however, because we continue to exercise our full membership of the European Union until our exit and because to do so is a legal requirement that we must take seriously. I should, however, remind the House that the content of the convergence programme is drawn from the Government’s assessment of the UK’s economic and budgetary position. This assessment is based on the spring Budget report and the Office for Budget Responsibility’s most recent economic and fiscal outlook. It is that content, rather than the convergence programme itself, that requires the approval of the House.
I should also remind the House that although the UK participates in the stability and growth pact, which requires convergence programmes to be submitted, we are required—by virtue of our protocol to the treaty opting out of the euro—only to endeavour to avoid excessive deficits. The UK cannot be subject to any action or sanctions as a result of our participation.