Customs duties

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:00 pm on 20th December 2017.

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Photo of Ian Murray Ian Murray Labour, Edinburgh South 7:00 pm, 20th December 2017

Amendment 7 is incredibly important. That is why I was disappointed that my hon. Friend Kate Hoey did not take an intervention during her contribution. What amendment 7 did last week was to show that this Parliament can speak. It gave power to this Parliament to say that we require a piece of legislation to go through the processes in this House to make sure that this Parliament has spoken when we leave the European Union. The Minister, not unsurprisingly, sought to give assurances to many right hon. and hon. Members on amendments that they have tabled that the Government will do the right thing, but refused—absolutely refused—at the Dispatch Box, on three separate occasions, to give a commitment from the Government that they would abide by the will of this House and abide by amendment 7.

In addition to that, this afternoon the Prime Minister was asked on several occasions at the Liaison Committee to abide by amendment 7, and on all those occasions she refused to give a cast-iron guarantee that the Government will not row back on amendment 7 on Report. That is not taking back control. My hon. Friend the Member for Vauxhall should reflect very carefully on the fact that, whether or not one agrees with the principles of amendment 7 or bringing a piece of legislation through this House to implement the deal, this Parliament has spoken and therefore the Government have a legal, moral and democratic responsibility to abide by that decision and do what this Parliament has asked them to do. To do anything other than that would not just be kicking a hornets’ nest—it would be contemptuous to the hon. Members who walked through the Lobby last week to put amendment 7 into the Bill. If the Government do decide to row back on amendment 7 on Report, that will show that their direction on this Bill, and on removing the UK from the European Union, has nothing to do with the future of this country but is to do with the future of their own party.

The reason that amendment 7 is so important is that it allows this Parliament to have a say. The reason this Parliament needs to have a say—this goes to new clause 54 and, indeed, new clause 13—is that we cannot trust a thing that Ministers say. Their statements contradict all the aspirations that they wish to achieve through this process. Indeed, Michel Barnier has said in the past 48 hours that the red lines that the Government have drawn for themselves contradict the objectives that they wish to achieve from this process. That is why we are tabling new clauses like new clause 13.

I represent a constituency where tens of thousands of jobs, and the entire Edinburgh economy, are reliant on financial services. The head negotiator from the European Union said yesterday that the red lines that the Government have drawn for themselves are completely contradictory to their aspiration to keep passporting and a unique deal for financial services. Tens of thousands of my constituents who rely on jobs or secondary jobs in financial services would look at these reports and say, “If the Government do have the aspiration to keep the financial services passporting arrangements and to keep the financial services sector in the UK healthy, then they should put that aspiration into the Bill.” That is what new clause 54 is seeking to do. If the Government do not do that, my constituents could draw the conclusion that the Government may have to throw some sectors under the bus.

I say that because nothing could be as good as the situation that we have at the moment. We have free and unfettered access for goods and services, free and unfettered access to the customs union, and free and unfettered access to the single market. The aspiration of this Government is to ensure that when we come out of this process, we have exactly the same, if not better, terms than we have at the moment. That is completely and utterly impossible, because the European Union will never agree to the same benefits of the customs union and the single market if we are dealing with it on a separately negotiated basis. That means—this goes to the arguments made by the right hon. and learned Member for Rushcliffe—that when doing individual bilateral trade deals with the US, Australia, India or wherever else, the Government will have to throw some sectors under the bus. Michel Barnier has said in the past 48 hours that the red lines that the Government have drawn and the aspirations they wish to achieve for the financial services sector are contradictory and therefore cannot happen. If the Government refuse to accept any of the amendments, do we draw the conclusion that financial services is a sector that they are willing to throw under the bus?