Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU

Part of Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in the House of Commons at 4:39 pm on 18th July 2018.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 4:39 pm, 18th July 2018

I really do not like the Secretary of State saying, “if he cared about it that much”. The suggestion that we are not both engaging in a difficult analysis of the White Paper with the interests of our country at heart is not fair. I care about this greatly, because without the right arrangement, I genuinely believe that manufacturing in this country will be at risk. Having worked in Northern Ireland for five years, I genuinely believe that, without a working arrangement, the solemn commitment to no hard border in Northern Ireland may not be kept. It is really serious, and point scoring about whether one is serious about it or not does not help; doing so demeans the Secretary of State in his role. It is not the way to conduct such debates.

It is not just the manufacturing sector; the White Paper’s proposals on services reveal a huge black hole. Likewise, the proposals on rights and protections are simply inadequate. On social rights, employment rights and environmental rights, there is a non-regression approach: we will not necessarily keep up and we will not necessarily improve, but things will not necessarily get worse.

There is no clarity on the role of the European Court of Justice. [Interruption.] The Secretary of State says, “It ends”, but it clearly does not end. The European Court has two different primary jurisdictions: first, dispute settlement; and secondly, reference. That is the jurisdiction that it has had, as he very well knows, with his experience. The second of those is being preserved for everything in the common rulebook. That is why it has caused such difficulty within his own party. The jurisdiction of the Court would exist on reference procedure for that wide range of issues, and he well knows it. It will operate, I should imagine, in precisely the same way that it operates now. That is, there will be a reference to the Court, the Court will decide the question before it, it will give a ruling and an interpretation, and that interpretation will be binding, because if it is not, there is no point in that reference procedure, as he knows.