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Britain's Place in the World

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 3:13 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Keir Starmer Keir Starmer Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union 3:13 pm, 15th October 2019

I do agree with that and it chimes with what I was saying.

I think there was a second part of the challenge that was put to me that I have not yet addressed, which is: surely our future lies elsewhere other than trading with the EU. I do not accept that. What is this argument? Is it that, somehow, not trading with the countries that we trade most with—[Interruption.] Perhaps if I can finish, Sir Hugo Swire can come straight back in. Through EU trade arrangements, we have access to another 67 countries, so the best part of 100 countries are available to us through EU membership, because of the trade deals that the EU has done. So we have the original 27—[Interruption.] Just let me finish the point, and then Members can shout at me—[Interruption.] I am asked, “why wait?” It might be worth waiting. We deal directly with 27 countries as a result of the customs union and the single market in a most effective way, and every business in the country that trades with Europe says that relations are excellent. Through our EU membership, we have another 67 countries that we deal with on EU trade agreements. That is nearly half the world. So this argument that somehow there is a brilliant tomorrow out there that has nothing to do with the brilliant arrangements that we already have in place is something that I have never seen evidenced. In fact, I looked through the Government’s impact assessments—when we were finally allowed to see them—for evidence that these new trade agreements would make up for all the loss, but it was not there. The Government’s own assessments said that we will be worse off as a result of leaving the customs union.