[7th Allotted Day]

Part of Points of Order – in the House of Commons at 2:19 pm on 11th January 2019.

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Photo of Jeremy Hunt Jeremy Hunt Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs 2:19 pm, 11th January 2019

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. I want to reassure everyone in this House that it is a paramount negotiating objective for the Government to make sure that we maintain an independent foreign and security policy. It always has been, incidentally, and it always will be.

Peter Grant was right to warn about the dangers of xenophobia and small-minded isolationism. No one in this House would think in those terms. However, he is totally wrong, as my hon. Friend Luke Graham said, to suggest that the view of Conservative Members in any way reflects that approach. I can tell the hon. Gentleman that, within the framework of the new immigration policy, there will be no cap on the number of skilled workers who can enter the UK.

The hon. Members for Liverpool, Wavertree and for Oxford West and Abingdon spoke about the impact of leaving the EU on our universities. I can reassure them that the new immigration policy means there will be no limit on the number of international students who can study in our universities. This is very important because our international reputation benefits immensely from the excellence of our universities. We are coming to a close, but one group whose rights we have not talked about is the nearly 1 million Brits living in Europe, The withdrawal agreement protects their rights as well.

In conclusion, as time is marching on and the weekend approaches, we are now in the final stages of leaving a supranational organisation that has been central to our national life for 46 years. We all have deeply held opinions on this issue, but the voters who sent us here are looking for hon. Members to reach consensus on the way ahead. Britain’s friends across the world—the Governments I deal with every day—hope and expect that we will leave the EU in an orderly way and emerge as a reinvigorated ally on the international stage. Let us rise to the moment, meet those expectations and show that whatever our views may be—leaver or remainer—we are democrats, and proud to be in one of the oldest democracies in the world, where we do what the people tell us.