Uk’S Withdrawal from the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:41 pm on 27th February 2019.

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Photo of Anne Marie Morris Anne Marie Morris Conservative, Newton Abbot 5:41 pm, 27th February 2019

I am a little frustrated, because all the mood music today has been very negative and I think we have forgotten that 52% of the people voted for Brexit. Why did they do it? It is clear that they wanted sovereignty over their laws and the economic opportunity that Brexit would allow. We seem to have forgotten that we are in deficit with the EU and in surplus with the rest of the world, and that is what this is all about.

We are now struggling to negotiate this withdrawal agreement, which seems to be totally trapped in negativity and in terms of finding any real solution. I take my hat off to those on both the leave and remain side who have endeavoured to find a way through this with the Malthouse compromise, but from everything I have seen that simply is not being listened to—I wish to goodness that it were. I am looking carefully at what is being said about the options, because if we cannot agree a deal, we have to accept that we have to look at no deal. So many people have said today that that is unacceptable, but I say to them that when they read the paperwork and the reports, they should remember that there are always two sides to every argument. I ask them to look to see whether or not they have a balanced view, even when looking at the Government paper which has been referred to today.

Of all the possible options that will deliver certainty—we know what no deal means—this is the only one that would deliver sovereignty and give us back our economic freedom. It also puts us in a much better place to negotiate a good deal after 29 March, and we must not forget that. The Government’s paper is not all doom and gloom about it; it says that 85% of the preparation that needs to be done has been done. It also says that the reason that no more has been done is because of a failure to communicate to businesses—that is absolutely right. I serve on the Public Accounts Committee and we have heard from every Department about how prepared they are. We hear what the challenge is; the one thing they are not able to do and allowed to do is talk to the people who really matter—the people who are going to have to implement this. We should be encouraging the Government to get this right, because it will put us in a better place to do a better deal.

No-deal will enable us to negotiate deals with other countries and to deal with the EU, as I said. We should not dismiss GATT, which has been referred to before. The assumption is being made that the EU will not allow us to exercise article XXIV of GATT—the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade—to get zero tariffs, a view with which I simply do not agree. For me, no deal should be seen as an opportunity, not a threat.

Equally, I am not happy with the concept of an extension. I cannot see how we can achieve more in three months than we have already tried to achieve. My fear is that at the end of this process we will find ourselves not with the three choices about which the Prime Minister talks, but with a straight choice between no deal and our right to withdraw our notification under article 50. I noted carefully that for the first time without any need, the Prime Minister mentioned that after she said we would be having the three votes. She said that if it comes to it, she would not support our retracting article 50, but she said before that no deal is better than a bad deal and she has retracted that, and she said that there would be no extension but has retracted that. Let us hope to goodness that she keeps her promise, because otherwise it would undermine democracy and the referendum result.