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 right hon. Gentleman talks about having Scottish nationalist MPs in this House, but I note that there are only nine here today, which is, of course, fewer than the number of Conservative Scottish Members of Parliament. The decisions that led to the approach in my speech were taken by the whole Cabinet, not by a sub-group of the Cabinet, and all members, bar one who was in this House at the time, were present when that decision was taken.

The right hon. Gentleman talks about timing. Like the Leader of the Opposition, he appears to have misunderstood the fact that the European Union set out at the beginning that there would be different phases to this negotiation. I was always straight with the House that I believed that citizens’ rights should be in the first phase. They were; we agreed that in December. Many people, including possibly the right hon. Gentleman—I cannot remember—were sceptical about whether we would get that deal. We did get that deal, and now we move on to the second phase of the negotiations.

May I say to the right hon. Gentleman that, yet again, he has tunnel vision on there being only one approach to take on a single market and a customs union? We will ensure that we get trade with the European Union that is tariff-free and as frictionless as possible; that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland; and that this country will be able to run an independent trade policy, negotiating trade deals around the rest of the world.

Finally, the right hon. Gentleman talks about Scotland as an independent nation taking decisions. Yet again, I remind him that, from the point of view of Scotland’s economy, the most important thing is to be part of the United Kingdom.