Uk/EU Future Economic Partnership

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:47 pm on 5th March 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:47 pm, 5th March 2018

The Leader of the Opposition raised a number of issues. First, he raised the issue of steel tariffs and the position of the United States of America, and I spoke to President Trump about this yesterday. May I just say to the right hon. Gentleman that we are much more likely to get a positive result by engaging with the United States of America than by standing on the sidelines sniping and shouting at them, as he always does?

The right hon. Gentleman talks about workers’ rights and other standards. We have been very clear: this Government are not just maintaining workers’ rights, but enhancing them; and we are committed to maintaining high environmental standards. He asked whether we want a deal that was tariff-free. I gave him the statement in advance, so if he had read it, he would know that I referred to tariff-free access in my statement. He talks about ideological crusades, and I have to say that only person in this House—[Interruption.] Well, not the only person, because the shadow Chancellor is also on an ideological crusade.

There is a fundamental flaw at the heart of what the Leader of the Opposition has chosen as his approach towards the European Union and the post-Brexit relationship. He talks about free trade agreements with the European Union, yet he is clear that he would go against one of the key elements of ensuring that we could have such trade deals, notably the issue around state aid. He would tear up rules on state aid and fair competition, as he does not believe in fair competition—that is perfectly clear.

At the very beginning of the right hon. Gentleman’s remarks, he asked about the withdrawal agreement—the draft legal text on the withdrawal agreement that was published by the European Union last week—and he referred to my speech last Friday as if it was about the same thing. I have to tell him that it was not, actually, so may I just explain? There are three issues and three elements of the process at the moment. We are negotiating the final arrangements for the implementation period, which we hope will be agreed in March—we certainly intend that they will be. Alongside that, we are looking at the legal text of the withdrawal agreement—Michel Barnier has made it clear that, on his timetable, we would be looking at October for that—and we now want to start negotiations on the future economic partnership and the future security partnership.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about the European Court of Justice. The jurisdiction of the Court in the United Kingdom will end. We will bring back control of our laws to this Parliament—to this country—unlike the Labour party’s position, which is to remain in the single market and, in effect, remain under the jurisdiction of the ECJ. We will also take control of our borders, unlike the Labour party’s position—[Interruption.] Well, Labour Members do not seem to know what their position is. The Leader of the Opposition said that the Labour party would bring free movement to an end, but at the same time the shadow Brexit Secretary said that “easy movement” would continue. We know that Labour Members would not bring back control of money, because they have said that they would pay whatever it takes to the European Union regardless.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about delays. This Government are focusing on making a success of Brexit and on delivering for the British people, but Labour has nothing to offer. Labour voted against moving on the negotiations in the European Parliament. Labour Members twice voted against the Bill that delivers Brexit in this Parliament, now they have gone back on what they promised on the customs union, and over a week ago the shadow Chancellor said that Labour would keep “all options open” on whether or not to have a second referendum. This Government and this party are clear: there will be no second referendum. We are delivering for the British people, and we are going to make a success of it.