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[Day 2]

Part of Burma – in the House of Commons at 2:31 pm on 15th March 2018.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 2:31 pm, 15th March 2018

I am sure that my hon. Friend wants me to concentrate on the customs union, because she shares my wish that the Government will be well supported if the Opposition decide to have a third go at voting through a customs union or customs union membership.

I remind the House that we have twice had big votes in the Commons in which Members have voted by a very large majority against our staying in the or a customs union. One was on an amendment to the Queen’s Speech motion, and the other was on an amendment to the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill. I hear that some Labour Members may have changed their minds and want to vote again. I am a democrat, and the Opposition have their own ways of doing what they want to do, but I urge them not to vote to stay in the customs union.

Above all, are Labour Members not at all worried about poverty in emerging markets? Do they not think it is wrong that we place huge tariffs on poor countries’ tropical produce—produce that we cannot grow for ourselves? Would it not be great, when we are outside the EU customs union, to be able to take down those tariffs and give those countries more hope of promoting themselves by good trade, while at the same time benefiting our customers because they would be able to buy cheaper tropical products? Can we not do good trade deals with those emerging market countries across the piece? The tariff barriers are too high, and we could make mutually advantageous changes if we were free to do so. I urge the Labour party to remember its roots in campaigning against poverty and to join me in saying that the best way to get the world out of poverty is to get down the high tariffs on emerging market countries that the EU imposes, which I certainly do not agree with.

The Minister must remind Labour Members that no deal is better than a bad deal, and that no deal allows us to take back control of all the things that he and I promised to take back control of. He must also remember that we do not owe the EU any money. It would be fatally wrong to pay it loads of money if everything else does not work in the way we want.