Economic Effects: Customs Union

Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 14th December 2017.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Labour, Enfield North 12:00 am, 14th December 2017

Whether his Department has made an assessment of the economic effects of not forming a customs union with the EU after the UK has left the EU.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

In assessing the options for the UK’s future outside the customs union, the Government will be guided by what delivers the greatest economic advantage to the UK and by these three objectives: ensuring that UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible; avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and establishing an independent trade policy.

Photo of Joan Ryan Joan Ryan Labour, Enfield North

I understand that the Minister said in answer to an earlier question that some quantitative assessment has been undertaken in relation to leaving the customs union, and yet, last week, when he was in front of the Select Committee, the Secretary of State admitted that the Government had undertaken no quantitative assessment. Why is it that every time we ask a question in relation to Brexit, we get a different answer depending on the time, the day, or the Minister? If the Government simply cannot, or will not, say whether leaving the customs union will make Britain poorer, does the Minister not agree—

Photo of John Bercow John Bercow Speaker of the House of Commons, Chair, Speaker's Committee on the Electoral Commission, Chair, Speaker's Committee for the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, Chair, Commons Reference Group on Representation and Inclusion Committee

Order. I think we have got the drift of what the right hon. Lady is trying to cover. Questions really need to be briefer. Otherwise, a lot of people lower down the Order Paper will not be reached, and it is not fair.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

The Secretary of State emphasised that there was not a formal quantitative impact statement, but was clear that a judgment was made on the basis of a range of evidence. The Government have been conducting an extremely broad overall programme of work on EU exit issues, and will continue to do so.

Photo of Martin Vickers Martin Vickers Conservative, Cleethorpes

Is the Minister aware of whether the EU Commission is assessing the economic effects on the remaining member states of not reaching a trade deal with the UK?

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

I am sure that plenty of analytical work is being done on both sides, but as my hon. Friend knows, the EU Commission does not make all of its analysis public.

Photo of Stephen Timms Stephen Timms Labour, East Ham

Surely quantitative assessments of the impact of leaving the EU on sectors of the UK economy should have been basic spade work for the negotiations.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

As the right hon. Gentleman will know, and we debated at great length, a huge amount of sectoral analysis has been done by the Government on these issues. I think that he discussed at length with the Secretary of State in the Select Committee why quantitative impact assessments were not considered appropriate.

Photo of Nigel Evans Nigel Evans Conservative, Ribble Valley

Surely one of the assessments that the Government have made is how much money we will save by not having to pay to access the customs union, as well as the impact on all sectors of industry in this country of being able to do our own trade deals around the world.

Photo of Robin Walker Robin Walker The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the opportunities for wider trade deals around the world. As the Prime Minister has said, we will not make the same huge payments to the EU that we have to date. That will mean more money for public services in the UK.