Leaving the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:44 pm on 26th November 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 3:44 pm, 26th November 2018

The right hon. Gentleman asked where the Brexit dividend was. We have been very clear that we will be able to use the money we are not sending to the EU to spend on our priorities, including the national health service. There was a time when he himself talked of spending the Brexit dividend on our public services. He talks about the backstop and about the implementation period being the alternative. Actually, no, we have written in the possibility of alternative arrangements. The key thing is to deliver on our commitment of no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland—a commitment that he appeared to dismiss in his response to my statement. We do not dismiss the people of Northern Ireland. We believe it is important to maintain that commitment.

The right hon. Gentleman said that our deal did not bring back control of our borders, but of course it does because it brings an end to free movement once and for all. I note that the Labour party has never been able to stand up and actually say it wants to bring an end to free movement once and for all, and that is because it is not responding to the real needs and concerns of the British people on these issues. The British people want control of our borders and an end to free movement, and this deal delivers it.

I was very interested to hear that it now appears to be Labour party policy to be in both the single market and the customs union. [Interruption.] I hear yeses from the Labour Front Bench. There was a time when the right hon. Gentleman talked about the importance of an independent trade policy and negotiating our own trade deals. As a full member of the customs union, in which he wants us to remain, we cannot do that, so again he has gone back on his words in relation to these issues.

The right hon. Gentleman talked about President Macron’s comments about access to waters. I recognise that this has raised a question about our being in the backstop. For the benefit of all those who are concerned, and all those who have commented on this, it is important to recall that if we were in the backstop, we would be outside the common fisheries policy and we would be deciding who had access to fish in our waters.

The right hon. Gentleman mentioned Gibraltar. I quoted the Chief Minister of Gibraltar, who made it very clear, as I did, that this Government stood by Gibraltar and resisted changes to the withdrawal agreement that the Spanish Government wished to make. We are clear that Gibraltar’s sovereignty will not change. It has not changed and will not change. We are proud that Gibraltar is British.

Finally, the right hon. Gentleman talked about dealing with issues with our economy in those parts of the country where we need to enhance and improve our economy. It is absolutely clear that the one thing that will never deliver for our economy is his policy on borrowing, taxing and spending. It is a balanced approach to the economy that delivers.