Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:24 pm on 27th March 2019.

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Photo of Chris Philp Chris Philp Conservative, Croydon South 6:24 pm, 27th March 2019

That was not the case that the right hon. Lady made. She made the case that people should be able to change their mind repeatedly, which implies that she would support any number of referendums.

I rise to speak against motion (D), in the name of my hon. Friend Nick Boles, on common market 2.0, and a similar motion, (H), in the name of my hon. Friend George Eustice, on membership of the European economic area. I strongly oppose those motions for two reasons. First, they both entail signing up to full single market rules. The House of Commons Library published a paper only yesterday that says on page 19:

EEA membership…
involves a range of obligations, including implementation of EU rules relating to the Single Market”,

with no decision-making role, other than being “consulted”. For a great British institution such as the City of London or our entire industrial economy, our merely being consulted on the rules that govern them simply is not good enough.

Secondly, there is the question of financial contributions, which was a controversial part of the referendum campaign. Another House of Commons paper published on 21 December found that Norway pays per capita contributions that are around half our current level—so, one would assume, about £5 billion per year. The promise made to the British people about saving money would not be delivered in either common market 2.0 or as a member of the European economic area.

We then come to the question of free movement, which was another contentious issue during the referendum campaign. Membership of the single market entails full free movement. Some Members have referred to various brakes or safeguards in the European economic area agreement. Specifically, article 112 says that any such safeguards must be “restricted” in their “scope and duration”. Article 114 says that if a state, like the UK, were to use those safeguards, other member states could take “rebalancing measures” against them, meaning that some of the benefits of single market membership could be withdrawn. No country other than Liechtenstein, in very limited circumstances, has ever taken advantage of those provisions.