Leaving the Eu: Economic Impact of Proposed Deal

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:44 pm on 20th February 2019.

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Photo of Mel Stride Mel Stride Financial Secretary to the Treasury and Paymaster General 12:44 pm, 20th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman accuses Government Members of having a lack of clarity on the issues around Brexit. I find that slightly rich coming from the Labour Front Bench, given that the position of the Leader of the Opposition has flip-flopped as to whether to be in or out of the customs union, and whether or not to honour the pledge that he appeared to make at his party conference for a second referendum, which appears to have been parked now. It seems to me that the Opposition are trying to ride at least two horses on this issue, if not more, and we know what happens if you do that, Mr Speaker—it tends to get rather painful in the end, as we are perhaps seeing in more recent events.

The hon. Gentleman refers to the parliamentary defeat that the Government suffered more recently. He chose to overlook the fact that the House did unite around a particular way forward, and that is to seek changes to the backstop arrangements. That is now the main focus of the negotiations that are continuing in Brussels. He referred to various impacts of employers’ decisions and changes, and the impact on the economy and employment, which gives me a good opportunity to remind him of some facts. As a country, we have about the highest level of employment in our history; we have the lowest level of unemployment since the mid-1970s; and we have halved youth unemployment since 2010. Lest it be forgotten, every Labour Government in history have always left office with unemployment higher than it was when they entered office.