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Leaving the Eu: Customs

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:31 pm on 16th May 2018.

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Photo of Peter Grant Peter Grant Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Europe), Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union) 4:31 pm, 16th May 2018

If the hon. Gentleman had listened, he would have heard me make it clear that I am not arguing, and neither is the motion, that this should be regarded as routine, automatic or standard practice; this is a request in a specific instance. I will explain why in this instance and on this matter those in the Cabinet have shown themselves incapable of fixing it by themselves. We do not need a Humble Address to mess up the smooth and efficient running of Government business; we only need Cabinet Committees and Sub-Committees in order to do that, as they can do it perfectly well. The Government’s arguments might carry some weight if they could point to some kind of progress—there has been some but not nearly enough. Almost two years after the decision was taken to leave the EU, and five months before, as we know, we need agreement on the Government’s preferred solutions, we do not know even what their preferred solutions are, because they cannot agree on them. Those in the Cabinet are too busy fighting among themselves, jockeying for position for when the Prime Minister goes, willingly or unwillingly. Almost the only thing they can agree on is that this mess is everybody’s fault but their own.

As for the Government’s non-plans for our future customs relationship, here is what we know: we know that the Prime Minister’s plans are “crazy”; we know there are “significant question marks” over whether they can be delivered on time; we know that the Foreign Secretary is undermining the negotiations; and we know that thousands of people in the car industry could lose their jobs if the Government get it wrong. We know all that because it is what Cabinet Ministers are already telling us in public. If what they are saying in private is more damaging to our negotiating stance than what they are saying in public, heaven help us. Those quotes have come from serving Cabinet Ministers within the past 10 days—that is what they are saying in public. It is hard to believe that what they are saying in private can be so much more damaging that they cannot be allowed to say it—