Leaving the Eu: Preparations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:14 pm on 3rd September 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 5:14 pm, 3rd September 2019

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his questions. I am also grateful to him for asking me how I reconcile the progress of my career—it is a question my wife asks me every night, so I am grateful to him for repeating it. I have enormous respect and affection for the hon. Gentleman. We both represent constituencies that voted to leave the European Union, and both of us are impatient to see us do so. When a Brexit delay was suggested in January 2019, he said that it

“sounds like the British establishment doing what it always does, which is ignoring the views of millions of ordinary folk, and that I am not prepared to tolerate.”

Comrades, neither am I, which is why we have to leave on 31 October.

The hon. Gentleman said that civil servants are doing a fantastic job in the preparations, and I join him in paying tribute to them for their work. He asked about medical shortages. Sadly, medical shortages sometimes occur, whether we are in or out of the European Union, as we have seen recently with the hormone replacement therapy shortages, which my right hon. Friend the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care is doing so much to help counter. But that is a shared issue for all of us. Two thirds of the medical supplies that reach the Republic of Ireland pass through the narrow straits. That is why it is so important that we secure a deal, not only to safeguard our superb NHS, but to help citizens in Ireland, who are our brothers and sisters too.

The hon. Gentleman also asked about the EU settled status scheme. He made the point that 1 million people have received the status so far, and he asked about progress. Every day, 15,000 more people are applying. The settled status scheme is working. He is absolutely right that now is the time for our European partners to extend the same generosity to UK citizens as we are extending to EU citizens.

The hon. Gentleman talked about the money being spent. At the beginning of his questions, he said that £6.3 billion was too little, too late, but subsequently at the end of his statement he asked how we can justify such expenditure. I think that is the fastest U-turn in history, in the course of just six minutes. He also talked about our contemplation of a “cynical” general election. I thought it was the policy of the Opposition—certainly the Leader of the Opposition—to welcome a general election at the earliest possible opportunity. [Interruption.] I see the Leader of the Opposition seeking guidance on this question from Mr Speaker.