Future Relationship Between the UK and the EU

Part of Domestic Gas and Electricity (Tariff Cap) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:16 pm on 18th July 2018.

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Photo of John Baron John Baron Conservative, Basildon and Billericay 6:16 pm, 18th July 2018

I think it is quite straightforward. We had a referendum on the question of whether people wanted to stay or leave. The decision was to leave, and the political parties woke up to that fact and put that decision at the heart of their manifestos, on which we then went to the country. I remind the House that it is there in black and white in both manifestos: we will leave the customs union, and we will leave the single market. My concern about the Chequers agreement is that having gone to the country on that basis, there seems to be a bit of a fudge that needs explaining by the Government.

Let us take the common rulebook and the customs union. It is no accident that the EU has had a problem negotiating free trade deals with countries outside the EU. It does not have a free trade deal with the US, with Australia or with New Zealand. It struggles on emerging markets—big economies like Brazil, India and China. The reason for that, in large part, is that it has protectionist non-tariff barriers that a lot of countries cannot abide. If we incorporate those protectionist non-tariff barriers into our own regulations, that will make our task of negotiating trade deals that much more difficult. It will therefore take away from us one of the key upsides of Brexit, which is to negotiate our own trade deals.

We all have our own views of President Trump, but one thing that he was very direct about, stating the blindingly obvious, was that if one incorporates protectionist non-tariff barriers as part of one’s own regulations, it will—surprise, surprise—be more difficult to negotiate trade deals. That is why there is concern among Conservative Members about the common rulebook. If we incorporate those rules, it makes trade deals more difficult.