EU Exit Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 10:42 am on 15th November 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 10:42 am, 15th November 2018

Let me pick up some of the points that the right hon. Gentleman made. First, he said that no deal was not an option, but then complained that we were not preparing for no deal. Actually, we have been preparing for no deal, and we continue to prepare for no deal, because I recognise that we obviously have a further stage of negotiation with the European Council and then, when that deal is finalised with the European Council, it has to come back to this House. So we will continue those preparations.

The right hon. Gentleman said that the withdrawal agreement is ill defined. Five hundred pages of detailed legal text on the withdrawal agreement is not an ill-defined withdrawal agreement. He complained that the withdrawal agreement does not refer to the implementation period. Of course, it does refer to the transition period, which is exactly the same period of time.

The right hon. Gentleman then talked about the whole question of the decision on the backstop and the implementation period as coming at the end of 2020. Well, if he looks again at the documents that have been produced, he will see that actually the decision will be taken in June 2020 as to whether it is likely that the future relationship will not be in place on 1 January 2021. At that point, it will be for the UK to decide whether it wishes to extend the implementation period for a limited period, or whether it wishes to go into the backstop.

The right hon. Gentleman is wrong to say that we have not dealt with the issue of the border down the Irish sea. We have dealt with that, as I was clear in this House that we would. It took some considerable time to persuade the European Union to move from its proposal for a Northern Ireland-only customs territory to a UK-wide customs territory, but we have achieved that.

In relation to the question of workers’ rights, there is reference to non-regression.

The right hon. Gentleman says that the outline political declaration does not refer to what we are proposing in terms of a free trade area for the future; in fact, the protocol explicitly does reference that. It sets out very clearly that we will be creating a free trade area between the United Kingdom and the European Union.

I am really not sure what document the right hon. Gentleman has read, because he said that there were no references to extradition, but there are indeed references to extradition. He also said that there was nothing about Europol, whereas there is an express reference that we will be including in the future document:

“Terms for the United Kingdom’s cooperation via Europol and Eurojust.”

I say to the right hon. Gentleman that there is indeed a choice before Members of this House: it is a choice of whether or not we go ahead with a deal that does deliver on the vote while protecting jobs, our security and our Union. Of course, what he wants is for us to stay in the single market and the customs union. That would not deliver on the vote of the referendum. We are delivering an end to free movement, coming out of the common agricultural policy and out of the common fisheries policy, and we are taking back control of our money, borders and laws. That is the right deal for Britain, and it is the deal that we will be putting forward before this House.