UK Internal Market

Oral Answers to Questions — Treasury – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 16th January 2018.

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Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire 12:00 am, 16th January 2018

What assessment he has made of the contribution of the UK internal market to the Scottish and Welsh economies.

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The UK internal market benefits all the nations of the UK. The Scottish Government’s own latest figures indicate that 63% of Scotland’s exports are to the rest of the UK, compared with 16% that go to the EU, and for Wales it is 80% compared with 12%. Stakeholders across Wales and Scotland have made it clear that it is vital that we continue to support the smooth working of the UK internal market, and it is therefore essential that no new barriers to living and doing business in the UK are created as we leave the EU.

Photo of Chris Davies Chris Davies Conservative, Brecon and Radnorshire

I thank my right hon. Friend the Chancellor for his answer, and does he agree that leaving the UK single market would pose a far greater risk to the Welsh, Scottish and Northern Ireland economies than leaving the EU single market?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Yes, it is absolutely true that for both Scotland and Wales leaving the UK single market would be far more economically damaging than leaving the European single market, which begs the question why the Scottish National party has advocated so strongly remaining in the European single market and also advocated so strongly breaking up the UK single market.

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 am not very interested in hearing that, which has nothing to do with Government policy, but I am interested in hearing Wes Streeting. I hope the Chancellor will take note: put very briefly, Chancellor, “Stick to your last—your business, not theirs.”

Photo of Wes Streeting Wes Streeting Labour, Ilford North

Thank you, Mr Speaker, that is the nicest thing anyone is likely to say to me today.

The Chancellor rightly extols the benefits of the UK single market, but is not the rank hypocrisy of the Government exposed by listening to the comments of the chief executive of Airbus last night that leaving the European single market would be hugely damaging to the UK economy? We do not have to pick and choose: why will the Chancellor not put a jobs first Brexit at the heart of the Government Brexit strategy and commit to keeping us in the European single market?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

The hon. Gentleman will know that I have been arguing for the last year for a jobs-first, prosperity-first Brexit, which means negotiating the closest possible relationship with the EU after we leave that union, and that is what we intend to do.

Photo of Ben Lake Ben Lake Plaid Cymru, Ceredigion

The contribution of the UK internal market is of course important to the economy of Wales. Under Westminster rule, the economy of London and the south-east of England has steamed ahead while Wales remains one of the poorest nations in western Europe. Will the Chancellor commit to ending this rank inequality by rebalancing the UK internal market to ensure that it is not based on a set of Westminster diktats but is rather a partnership of the four nations of the UK?

Photo of Philip Hammond Philip Hammond The Chancellor of the Exchequer

Yes, we have identified regional disparity as one of the drivers of low productivity in the UK. Raising the productivity performance, particularly that of our great cities outside London, is key to raising UK’s performance overall.