1st Allotted Day

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) Act – in the House of Commons at 5:46 pm on 4th December 2018.

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Photo of Theresa May Theresa May The Prime Minister, Leader of the Conservative Party 5:46 pm, 4th December 2018

There are different elements to the £39 billion in terms of the liabilities to which they refer. Of course, roughly £20 billion of that sum relates to the payments that will be made during the implementation period, which is about ensuring the smooth and orderly exit that is good for businesses. Obviously, there are other liabilities within that where it is determined that we have legal obligations, but, as I say—it is £34 billion to £39 billion; everybody quotes the higher figure, but it is £34 billion to £39 billion—it is from within that range that the final figure will come.

We have five days of debate, but I recognise that hon. Members will want to contribute in today’s debate, so I will make some progress. The second part of this deal is the political declaration. This is a detailed set of instructions to negotiators that will be used to deliver a legal agreement on an ambitious future relationship after we have left. I know that some Members worry that the political declaration is not already legally binding. It cannot be a legal agreement at this stage because the EU cannot legally agree a future relationship with us until we are a non-member state. Through the negotiations, however, we have ensured that we have the framework for an ambitious new economic and security partnership that is absolutely in our national interest.

At the outset, the EU said we would have a binary choice—Norway or Canada. The political declaration concedes that there is a spectrum, and we will have an unprecedented economic relationship that no other major economy has. The EU also said we could not share security capabilities as a non-member state outside of free movement and the Schengen area, but we have secured the broadest security partnership in the EU’s history. If this deal is passed, the task ahead of us will be to turn this ambitious political declaration into our new legal agreement with the EU.