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October EU Council

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:51 pm on 22nd October 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 4:51 pm, 22nd October 2018

Let me say to the right hon. Gentleman, as I said in response to the Leader of the Opposition, that I think it is important that those of us in public life all consider the language that we use.

There seemed to be some confusion in what the right hon. Gentleman was saying about the backstop. The Government are clear that we are negotiating for a backstop in the withdrawal agreement. The question is what the terms of that backstop are. As I have said and as I repeated in my statement, the backstop as proposed by the EU, which would effectively create that customs border down the Irish sea, is not acceptable to the UK Government, hence other proposals have been put forward. We have, as I have said, made significant progress since Salzburg in working with the European Union, particularly on the UK-EU-wide customs territory.

The right hon. Gentleman asked me to find a deal that protects jobs, and that is exactly what we have proposed to the European Union—a proposal that protects our economy, protects jobs and ensures that we continue to have a good trading relationship with the European Union, while also being able to develop new trading relationships and improve trading relationships with other countries around the rest of the world.

What is important as we look ahead to getting the deal is that although the right hon. Gentleman seems to think that the only issue that could lead to a no deal is not having a backstop in the withdrawal agreement—certainly if there is no withdrawal agreement and no future relationship, there is no deal; we are still at the closing stages of the negotiations and nobody knows absolutely what the result will be—we have to ensure that although, as I think, the best outcome for the UK is a good deal, we continue to prepare for the possibility of no deal. I can assure the right hon. Gentleman that what we will not be doing is following the example of the SNP, who want to put Scotland back into the European Union and back into the common fisheries policy, which is not in the interests of Scotland.