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Leaving the Eu: Customs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of David Lidington David Lidington Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Minister of State (Cabinet Office) 4:13 pm, 16th May 2018

My right hon. Friend speaks from experience, and he is completely accurate in what he says.

The third principle was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Dover when he talked about international relations. All Governments have to negotiate with other sovereign Governments and with international organisations, and it is a cardinal principle of our system of government that Ministers and officials need to be able to prepare the British negotiating position in private. Indeed, as recently as December 2016, that was also the view of Keir Starmer, who said:

“I fully accept that the Government will enter into confidential negotiations…I do…accept that there is a level of detail and of confidential issues and tactics that should not be disclosed, and I have never said otherwise.”—[Official Report, 7 December 2016;
Vol. 618, c. 223.]

It is a source of sadness to me that he appears to have departed from that position in lending his name to the motion on the Order Paper today. I would be happy to take an intervention from him if he wishes to explain to the House why he has abandoned the view that he championed two years ago.