Legislating for the Withdrawal Agreement

Part of Yemen – in the House of Commons at 7:32 pm on 10th September 2018.

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Photo of Colin Clark Colin Clark Conservative, Gordon 7:32 pm, 10th September 2018

It is worrying that free movement into the rest of the United Kingdom has continued strongly during the Brexit debate but has fallen in Scotland. That prompts us to ask what it is about the Scottish economy and the Scottish Government that is putting people off coming to work in Scotland. It is deeply worrying that people are not moving from the south, from other countries, to work in our NHS. We are still bereft of doctors. But I will not go into that further, because to do so would diverge substantially from the subject that we are discussing.

An FTA would mean customs declarations, but let me respond to the issue raised earlier by the hon. Gentleman. The British people did vote to leave the customs union, and they did vote to leave the single market. They did that in the full understanding that it was in exchange for the return of sovereignty and self-government, and a proven free trade agreement would respect that.

We must remember that other countries that do not have FTAs do more exporting to the EU than we do. Only 12% of the UK economy and 5% of UK businesses even trade with the EU; 60% of our trade is with the rest of the world, and most of the world’s fifth largest economy—ours—is domestic. The reality is that even the EU single market for services barely exists. The European Commission’s 2014 single market integration report shows that trade integration stands at only 5% for services, compared with 22% for goods.

When the transition period begins, we will have 18 months in which to negotiate the details of an FTA or CETA-style deal. That will be mostly in the area of services, and financial services in particular. TTIP contained advanced provisions for services: the framework is there. We have an opportunity to cut and paste what already exists. As the Minister said, the purpose of the transition period is to provide certainty and consistency, and that is what my constituents in Gordon and businesses in the north-east of Scotland want to see.