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European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 8:12 pm on 25th March 2019.

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Photo of James Cartlidge James Cartlidge Conservative, South Suffolk 8:12 pm, 25th March 2019

That is a perfectly fair point, but of course the reason they are in there is that many do choose to remain. [Interruption.] I take the figures as they are. I remember your time strictures, Mr Speaker, so I will move on to my second point, which is on free trade.

The reason we have the situation with immigration is that it is a discriminatory system. We allow free movement from the EU, but not from non-EU countries. The reason it is discriminatory is that we have a trade deal with the EU called the single market. Of course, it was in the Lancaster House speech that the red line on the single market was first stated, but I want to return to a Lancaster House speech in which the Prime Minister was addressing an audience of business leaders. She said:

“Just think for a moment what a prospect that is. A single market without barriers—visible or invisible—giving you direct and unhindered access to the purchasing power of over 300 million of the world's wealthiest and most prosperous people. Bigger than Japan. Bigger than the United States. On your doorstep. And with the Channel Tunnel to give you direct access to it. It’s not a dream. It’s not a vision. It’s not some bureaucrat’s plan. It’s for real. And it’s only five years away.”

That was the Lancaster House speech of Mrs Thatcher in 1988. There are only three MPs left in the House who voted against the Single European Act. One is Mr Campbell, one is Mr Skinner, and the third one is the Leader of the Opposition. The single market is not some socialist conspiracy; it is capitalism and it is free trade, and I believe fundamentally in free trade.

In the days to come, we will have to look at other issues. We will have to be prepared to flex our red lines, to be blunt, to deliver on the referendum result in a way that preserves free trade and gives us the best possible deal for our constituents.