Eu: Future Relationship White Paper

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:11 am on 12th July 2018.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 1:11 am, 12th July 2018

Thank you, Mr Speaker. I did not say anything because I assumed the Secretary of State was being briefed on the contents of the White Paper.

As for the facilitated customs arrangement, we think the proposals would be a bureaucratic nightmare, unworkable and costly for business. They rely on technology that does not currently exist. If, based on analysis, the EU27 agree with that assessment and reject the proposal on a customs arrangement, is the Government’s position that we should then negotiate a customs union with the EU, as the majority in the House think we should? On services, there is almost nothing, so again, if the Government’s proposals for mutual recognition and enhanced equivalence fail, what then?

In the short time I have had available to me, a number of features of this White Paper have leaped out. Vis-à-vis travel to work, the Secretary of State said in his statement that that was for business trips. The White Paper says that it is for “business activity”. I wonder if he could clear up the difference between the two. That is in paragraph 76 of chapter 1. Paragraph 89 of chapter 1 refers to reciprocal arrangements on social security. Could he elaborate on what that is? Paragraph 4 of chapter 4 says that the UK’s proposal

“would take the form of an Association Agreement”.

Again, could he elaborate on that? In paragraph 42 on page 93, there is a reference to the role of the European Court and interpretation. Perhaps he could elaborate on that as well.

Coming 15 months after article 50 was triggered and just three months before the article 50 agreement is expected, this White Paper has obviously arrived very late in the day. The Chequers statement unravelled in two days. When the details of this White Paper are examined, there are very few reasons to believe it will not suffer the same fate.