EU VAT area and pre-commencement requirements

Part of Taxation (Cross-Border Trade) Bill – in the House of Commons at 7:15 pm on 16th July 2018.

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Photo of Greg Hands Greg Hands Conservative, Chelsea and Fulham 7:15 pm, 16th July 2018

No, I am not giving way as I am going to explore my points in the available time.

The lesson here is that these partners will be less likely, in many ways, to do a deal with such an economy, and ours is the fifth largest economy in the world. If they can get access to that economy through a trade agreement with the EU such that Britain would be forced to lower its tariffs, the people they might want to speak to are more likely to be in Brussels than in London.

My second reason relates to the pursuit of an independent trade policy and trade agreements. If we are no longer setting our own tariffs and they are set by somebody else, that weakens our ability to have a trade negotiation and to come to a trade agreement—by definition, we have a lot less to offer.

Remarkably, the third area—trade remedies—has not been explored at all tonight. I am amazed that the Labour party wants us to join—I am not sure what the official Front-Bench view is, but I think it is this—a customs union with the EU. Who would do our trade defences? Trade defences are incredibly important; they are the topic de jour in the current disputes between the United States, China and other counterparts. If we were in a customs union, it would be likely that Brussels would be making the decisions on trade remedies that would apply to the UK. We would not have a seat at that table when those decisions, which would affect our industry, were being made. Moreover, it would be likely to be against WTO rules for Brussels to make decisions that might affect the UK, because under WTO rules, people have to show the impact on their own market, not somebody else’s. So it is not at all clear to me—