EU Exit Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:40 pm on 5th December 2017.

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Photo of David Davis David Davis The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 12:40 pm, 5th December 2017

Given my voice, I will wait it out, Mr Speaker.

Let us start with this issue of the single market and customs union. I am glad to see the shadow Chancellor in the Chamber, because he said earlier this year that remaining in the single market would be interpreted as “not respecting” the referendum result. The shadow International Trade Secretary—I cannot see him here—said that a permanent customs union is “deeply unattractive”. He said that as a “transitional phase”, it

“might be thought to have some merit. However, as an end point it is deeply unattractive.”

In fact, he described it rather later as “a disaster”. So much for Labour policy on this matter; we can see why it has changed 10 times in the course of the last year.

On the question with respect to the United Kingdom, I said in my response to the urgent question that I would be circumspect, and I intend to be. I am not going to go in for tit-for-tat comments—that would be very bad for our negotiations—but I will take the opportunity to rebut one falsehood I saw being stirred up by various of our political opponents yesterday: the suggestion that we might depart the European Union but leave one part of the United Kingdom behind, still inside the single market and customs union. That is emphatically not something that the UK Government are considering. So when the First Minister of Wales complains about it, the First Minister of Scotland says it is a reason to start banging the tattered drum of independence, or the Mayor of London says it justifies a hard border around the M25, I say they are making a foolish mistake. No UK Government would allow such a thing, let alone a Conservative and Unionist one.