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Britain's Place in the World

Part of Speaker’s Statement – in the House of Commons at 4:27 pm on 15th October 2019.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate 4:27 pm, 15th October 2019

The hon. Gentleman makes it clear that there is an awful lot of smoke on this issue, with people not being totally clear and honest about the precise position they are taking. I exempt the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish nationalists from that. The hon. Gentleman’s amity for me is fully reciprocated, although I rather suspect mine might do him more damage to him than his will do me, but on the question of no deal, the idea that Scotland, if it was allowed another referendum by this Parliament—[Interruption.] This Parliament would have to pass that, and I might point out to the hon. Gentleman that, as he well knows, we said we were dealing with this issue for a generation. If there was a future referendum, however, and Scotland voted to be independent, there would then need to be a negotiation about the terms of Scotland leaving the Union of the United Kingdom. The idea that he would come here and say that if the rest of the United Kingdom would not come to an agreement it would all be off is utterly preposterous. That is exactly the same kind of relationship that he has voted to impose on the United Kingdom in its negotiation with the European Community, however.

Finally, because we actually have a stated date of 31 October in mind, we are now getting the necessary concentration from our partners to at last get serious about the terms of the withdrawal agreement. I might just reflect that we have heard a great deal from the Taoiseach and the Foreign Minister of the Republic of Ireland in the years that have led into this negotiation, but finally, into the debate audibly came the Finance Minister a couple of weeks ago. I take that sense of financial reality—the financial implications of there being no withdrawal agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union—and the entry into the discussion of the Finance Minister of the Republic of Ireland as a thoroughly good sign that we are now going to get serious as we run into the final stages.