Eu: Withdrawal and Future Relationship (Motions)

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:08 pm on 1st April 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons 5:08 pm, 1st April 2019

I will vote for the single market, if it is presented in a proper way, and I would have voted for the motion in the name of my hon. Friend Mr Fysh last week, had he not at the end added a gratuitous sentence ruling out a customs union. If we can get a majority for the single market, I will vote for it again.

I accept that if we pass a motion for the single market, or the motion for common market 2.0, which no doubt my hon. Friend Nick Boles will move later, my motion will be subsumed, but I am not confident we will pass a motion for the single market, because although the Scot nats are attracted by freedom of movement, many of my right hon. and hon. Friends are provoked into voting against it for that very reason. Similarly, common market 2.0, which I would settle for, is probably too ambitious. Mine, then, is the fall-back position.

I hope that my hon. Friend votes for my motion, but I cannot understand the Scottish nationalists. Voting for my motion is no threat to their position; indeed, it is an insurance policy—this goes back to how I started—to make sure that we move forward and that the House of Commons gives the Government a mandate that we can then ensure they have to follow in mapping out this nation’s future. In the long negotiations over the next two or three years, questions of regulatory alignment and freedom of movement will start coming into the negotiations again; that we have committed ourselves to a permanent customs union will not compromise any of those discussions.

I have not the faintest idea why Members of the Democratic Unionist party are not supporting motion (C). If we pass motion (C), it will mean we have no tariffs or certificates of origin and that the Irish border question is pretty well solved—we will be 90-odd% of the way to maintaining the Belfast/Good Friday agreement. It would be of huge benefit to the Irish economy and Irish security and mean that the DUP’s objection to the Irish backstop—that Northern Ireland is being treated differently from the rest of the UK—vanished Pass motion (C) and it applies to the entire United Kingdom.