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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

I grappled with this question when I was Environment Secretary. I would talk to my opposite number, Richard Lochhead, and he would sometimes come to Brussels and we would discuss the matter in question beforehand. However, the position always was, and remains to this day, that it is the United Kingdom as one country that is negotiating. Of course, in doing that, the United Kingdom should take account of the interests and needs of businesses in different sectors and different parts of the country, and of the particular products that the hon. Lady has referred to. As far as the current difficulty is concerned, as I observed when we had a statement from the Secretary of State for Scotland recently, there is agreement on both sides that there are 24 areas on which the two sides need to sit down and talk. I hope that that process can unfold soon and reach agreement, because if agreement can be reached on the 24 areas, there should not be a difference of principle, because this has been done by means of negotiation.