Uk’S Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:54 pm on 13th March 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:54 pm, 13th March 2019

I will give way in a moment, but I have given way a lot, and I need to make progress. I am aware that others want to contribute to the debate.

I was dealing with the impact on manufacturing. Some of the large manufacturers have told us what the impact of no deal will be on them. Ford was clear that it

“would be catastrophic for the UK auto industry and Ford’s manufacturing operations in the country”.

Airbus used similar language, saying that it would be “absolutely catastrophic for us”. More recently, Honda said:

“If we end up with WTO tariffs, we’d have something like 10% of costs in addition on products shipped back into Europe”,

which would impact its “productivity” and “competitiveness”. This is not exaggeration. These are companies speaking about their businesses. This will impact on their businesses, and real people’s livelihoods will be at stake.

We do not have to only take the word of businesses and the trade unions, though it is a powerful voice. We can also look at the Government Benches. The hon. Member for Richmond (Yorks), who I believe is still a Business Minister in the Government, said that no deal

“would be completely disastrous for business in this country”— no doubt because, like me, he has been talking to those businesses. He then took a novel approach to collective responsibility by saying:

“I am very happy to be public about” the dangers of no deal

“and very happy if the Prime Minister decides I am not the right person to do the business industry job.”

He was backed up by the Business Secretary, who said

“no deal is fully acknowledged—certainly by me and the industry—as being ruinous for our prospects”—[Official Report, 4 February 2019;
Vol. 654, c. 68.]

The Government’s own figures show that no deal would mean a reduction in the economy of between 6.3% and 9% over 15 years, and every region would be poorer—Wales by 8.1%, Scotland by 8% and the north-east of England by 10.5%. Anybody who votes tonight to keep no deal on the table needs to explain to their constituents why they are taking that risk with jobs and our economy.