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

The outline of that mandate will be set in the political declaration; that is the deal that has been agreed with the European Union. What we are looking for is to have the expertise of the House and the views of the House when we go into that negotiating position. I also say to the right hon. Gentleman the Chairman of the Select Committee that I stated that Ministers will appear before the Select Committee, but of course Ministers will have to be invited by the Select Committee to appear before it. I hope, however, that Select Committees will indeed accept that it is important for Ministers to appear before them on these matters. Taken together, these arrangements will support a national mission to forge the strongest possible future relationship with our European partners, commensurate with our wider global goals and in the interests of the whole country.

Let me turn to the amendment proposed by the Leader of the Opposition. First, it argues for a permanent customs union. The benefit of a customs union is that it means no tariffs, fees, charges, quantitative restrictions or rules of origin checks. All of these are explicit in our deal, but, importantly, it goes further, because it also gives us the crucial ability to have an independent trade policy beyond our partnership with the EU, which membership of the customs union would not. So the Leader of the Opposition needs to explain why he does not share our ambition for a global Britain.

Secondly, the amendment argues for a strong single market deal. If that means being close to the single market but not part of it, then it is our deal which delivers the closest possible partnership. If it actually means being in the single market, the Leader of the Opposition is opposing taking back control of our borders and ending free movement. That not only contravenes the democratic instruction of the British people, but it contravenes his own manifesto.

Thirdly, the amendment claims our deal would

“lead to increased barriers to trade in goods and services”.

Unless the Leader of the Opposition’s policy is to stay in the single market as well as the customs union, some increase in barriers is inevitable. But our deal is the best deal outside the single market and it gives us the opportunities that come from an independent trade policy and increased regulatory freedom.