Preparations for Leaving the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:21 pm on 8th October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2:21 pm, 8th October 2019

I am very grateful to the hon. Gentleman for his questions. On the first question about the IFS report, we respectfully disagree with some, not all, of its conclusions. An extension would only generate further uncertainty. Not only would that extension involve us continuing to pay money into the European Union, but the uncertainty would mean that the investment decisions that business wants to make would still be put on pause. Business leaders, including many of those who backed remain such as the founder of Carphone Warehouse, now argue that we need to leave, deal or no deal, in order to have the certainty on which to plan for the future. That is what business wants overwhelmingly: to leave with a deal, but at least to ensure that we have certainty.

The hon. Gentleman asked about EU nationals, and he makes a very fair point. The majority of those who have been granted status have been granted settled status. Pre-settled status is for those people who have not been in the country, or cannot demonstrate that they have been in the country, for five years. Once they have been here for five years, however, they move automatically and smoothly to settled status. The number of people who have applied for status is increasing every day. It is also the case that our offer is significantly more generous than that for all save a tiny number of EU member states.

Those were the serious questions that the hon. Gentleman asked. I know that he used to be the proprietor of a comedy club in Scotland. I felt he was trying his hand at some Dadaist and surrealist comedy when he accused my party of trying to establish a majority for political purposes in the House of Commons. That is Scottish National party policy: trying to establish a bogus, broken-backed majority with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister for blatantly political purposes. As for using Brexit for our own ends, it is the Scottish National party that has been attempting to weaponise this argument to push its separatist and sectarian agenda. As for gesture politics, that is the hallmark and stock-in-trade of the SNP. I am afraid the hon. Gentleman was guilty of a psychological phenomenon known as projection, which is accusing your opponents of the sins of which you yourself are guilty.