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Preparations for Leaving the European Union

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:32 pm on 21st October 2019.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 6:32 pm, 21st October 2019

I thank the hon. Gentleman for his questions and, in particular, I am grateful for his kind words about the civil service. One of the many things we have in common, as well as representing constituencies that voted leave and being opposed to a second referendum, is that both of us are huge fans of the civil service and appreciate the great work done by civil servants every day for all of us in this country.

The hon. Gentleman asked me to keep the House informed even as the XO Committee sits every day, and I will do my best to do so. I am certain there will be an opportunity for at least one more statement, and I will be happy to respond to any urgent questions in his or any other Member’s name that relate to our Brexit preparations.

The hon. Gentleman asked about 31 October and suggested that the date is artificial. I fear it is not, as the date is fixed in legislation as a result of the article 50 process and has been agreed with the European Union. One of the important things that all of us in this House need to bear in mind is that EU leaders have made it crystal clear that they want the deal done, and they want it done by 31 October. The reason why the risk of no deal has increased materially is that EU leaders have said we cannot be certain that an extension will be granted. In those circumstances, there is one way to bring certainty, and I know that the hon. Gentleman knows this in his heart. The way in which we can bring certainty is by voting for the Prime Minister’s deal.

The hon. Gentleman asked about the cost of preparation. One thing the Prime Minister has stressed, and which is absolutely true, is that once we leave with a deal, we will be outside the customs union and the single market, and much of the preparation that will have been done in advance of 31 October will enable businesses to benefit from the free trade agreement that we hope to conclude with the EU and the new trade agreements we will conclude with other nations. There is a bright future ahead but it requires all of us to listen to the voice of this country and get Brexit done.