Duties in connection with the withdrawal of the UK from the European Union

Part of European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 6) Bill – in the House of Commons at 6:15 pm on 4th September 2019.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 6:15 pm, 4th September 2019

I would like us to leave on 31 October, as agreed, with a free trade agreement, or with serious talks about a free trade agreement, so that new tariffs or barriers need not be imposed on our trade with the EU or its trade with us. I am quite sure that we have a chance of achieving that only if so-called no deal is left firmly on the table, and if the European Union knows that we will leave with no withdrawal agreement or free trade agreement if it does not agree to those talks or offer such an agreement. That is our only lever.

I came to this debate against the Bill, because I think it tries to take away our only or best negotiating lever. I have looked carefully at amendment 6, new clause 1 and amendment 19, and I have listened to the debate on them. I am quite sure that Stephen Kinnock and my hon. Friend Richard Graham have very good intentions. I am sure that they are desperately trying to find compromise and a way forward at a time when the country is divided, as it was during the referendum campaign, and when this House remains extremely divided, or fragmented, into a series of different factions with different views on the best outcome.

Having listened to the debate, I share the view of my hon. Friends the Members for Brigg and Goole (Andrew Percy) and for Christchurch (Sir Christopher Chope). The amendments are on the side of thwarting the referendum result. They are designed to undermine Britain’s main negotiating card, which is our right to leave without having to make any more payments, accept any more laws or accept any instructions on our borders. The three things that the leave voters I met in large numbers during the referendum campaign wanted were to take control of our money, our borders and our laws. We have the right to do that on 31 October.