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Exiting the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:32 pm on 28th June 2018.

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Photo of Hilary Benn Hilary Benn Chair, Committee on Exiting the European Union 12:32 pm, 28th June 2018

That is not directly covered in the report, but I will give the hon. Gentleman a personal view, since he asks me the question. It is going to take two to reach an agreement, and I have already made the following point publicly as Chair of the Select Committee. The Government have their red lines, and in some respects they have already turned a slightly pinker shade, for example when the Prime Minister very sensibly said, “We want to continue to co-operate on security and recognise that that will involve the remit of the European Court of Justice,” and the same has been said in respect of the agencies. In my view, the EU negotiators should not then fold their arms and say, “That’s all very difficult”; they should say, “Fine, but you’re going to have to contribute financially and accept the rules, and you won’t have a vote although you might be in the room, and you’ll have to accept any judgments made by the ECJ.” Let us consider, for example, the European Aviation Safety Authority: it is patently sensible from everybody’s point of view that we should continue to be part of it, and I think there has been one ECJ judgment in the past three years on a very technical matter.

We hear a lot about cherry-picking, too. We looked carefully in our previous report at all the different deals the EU has negotiated—with Norway, the European economic area, Ukraine, Switzerland, Canada and so on—and it could be said that all of them involve elements of cherry-picking. One person’s cherry-picking is another person’s bespoke agreement. Speaking personally, I hope there is movement on both sides, because it seems to me that that is essential if we are going to get a sensible deal for British business and the British people.