I, too, must wish the Secretary of State the very best of British luck in his new role.
Brexit was of course a disastrous outcome of Tory infighting, and it now looks as though the Tory compromise last week is also falling victim to Tory infighting. It is an embarrassment and massively damaging. In January last year, the Prime Minister laid out 12 principles to underpin her Brexit process. The first was certainty and clarity, but we have had neither. The take-home from this latest Brexit White Paper seems to be that we are leaving the EU but we are putting in place regulations to comply with EU regulations on the movement of goods, so we will have no say in the decisions but we will abide by them. What mechanism will check the UK’s regulatory compliance with EU rules to allow access to the market? Will the UK use EU standards in negotiations on other trade agreements, or will there be a whole different set of standards for each agreement? Even more importantly, services make up 80% of the UK’s economy, and paragraph 48 of the White Paper says that
“the UK and the EU will not have current levels of access to each other’s markets.”
That is the Government limiting the sector’s access to the world’s biggest market, which is massively damaging. What measures will the Government bring in to compensate for that bizarre and unhelpful move?
Scotland is right in the firing line of this Brexit dither and indecision—damaged yet again by Tory infighting and intransigence. Is it not time that the Government accepted that this is a wrong-headed scheme and kept us in the single market and the customs union? They would be well advised to take the measured and sensible approach recommended by the Scottish Government ahead of last week’s Joint Ministerial Committee. Will that be considered? The Government’s own analysis has shown that Brexit is massively damaging, no matter what protections are offered. Will the Government now listen to wiser heads, reverse course for everyone’s good, and stay in the single market and customs union?
Lastly, what on earth is happening in this place? Not only did the Opposition parties receive copies of the White Paper appalling late, but it is customary for party spokespeople to have sight of statements before Ministers rise to their feet, not during the statement, as happened today. This Government’s contemptuous treatment of this Parliament has once again been laid bare for all to see.