Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:38 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Kevin Hollinrake Kevin Hollinrake Conservative, Thirsk and Malton 5:38 pm, 27th March 2019

The hon. Lady shakes her head. I apologise.

Vote Leave, which was the primary advocate for leaving, clearly set out promises to control our borders, control our laws and control our money, while having a free trade agreement. I have read the Vote Leave manifesto several times, and the words were, “There is a free trade area that stretches from Iceland to the borders of Russia, and we will be part of it.” Those were the promises that were made.

I believe the Prime Minister has come back to this House with a deal that meets the promises made; that is what her deal does. There is not a single motion on this Order Paper that lives up to those promises, however; all of them incorporate compromises that move outside those red lines. She has come back with a Goldilocks deal—not too hard, not too soft—but still people will not accept this deal.

If we do not approve the Prime Minister’s deal in the days and weeks to come—hopefully days—I think certain Members in this House might well look back and think, “That was our opportunity and it has now gone.” We should support the Prime Minister’s deal, because I do not think, having a small business background, that it is right that we should think of taking an uncalculated risk with the lives and livelihoods of small businesspeople, who we know could be affected by a no-deal exit. So we definitely need to leave with a deal.

How do we leave with a deal if we do not support the Prime Ministers’ deal? It means we have to remove at least one of the red lines. From my perspective, despite the fact that it would breach the manifesto promises, I would remove the red line on the single market. There will be challenges, certainly particularly between Northern Ireland and Ireland, but most of them are solved by membership of the single market. Some 80% of the border challenges are about the single market. Barnier said it himself: customs checks need not happen at the border.

We can do without the customs union, but we need the single market for regulatory standards, particularly on foods. A humble cottage pie sat on a supermarket shelf in Northern Ireland has passed over that border typically seven times. If there were regulatory checks, they would have to happen every single time according to EU rules; and it makes the rules, and we have been part of that system for 46 years, so we cannot simply say now “We don’t agree with your rules despite the fact that we’ve been happy”—or relatively happy—“to sit within them for 46 years.”

I will support two motions this evening. One is motion (D) brought forward by a number of colleagues, including my hon. Friend Nick Boles and Stephen Kinnock. Many colleagues have been big advocates of common market 2.0; it is a free trade agreement. I have concerns about it: I have concerns about the customs union, and the longevity of the customs union and our ability to exit it. Paragraph (1)(c) says we will need to agree with the EU our exit from the customs union, and I cannot see what incentive it would have to let us leave.

If we approved this motion, we would also have to agree lots of things with the Opposition. I do not have an issue about working cross-party on this at all, but I do fear that if we approve this, as we take the legislation forward over the next months and years, Labour Front Benchers will ask an ever higher price, because there is a political divide between the Opposition Front Bench and the Government Front Bench.

The other proposal I will happily accept is motion (H). It represents an excellent way forward; it is bold and decisive, and I will support it this evening.