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Engagements

Part of Prime Minister – in the House of Commons on 30th October 2019.

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Photo of Kenneth Clarke Kenneth Clarke Father of the House of Commons

Mr Speaker, may I take the occasion of your last Prime Minister’s questions and mine to join in the tributes to your role in the Chair? During your decade, there have been unprecedented attempts at times to try to increase the power of the Executive at the expense of this Parliament. You have been very formidable in maintaining the duty of government to be accountable to this House. I trust that your successor will try to live up to your considerable achievement.

To show that a veteran MP, even one who is retiring from the House, can still look to the future, will my right hon. Friend give me some clarity on what he will seek to achieve—if, by chance, he wins this unpredictable general election—by way of the permanent relationship he will have to negotiate between the EU and the United Kingdom as an ex-member? In the years of negotiation that he will have to undertake, will he seek to ensure that we maintain trade and flows of investment between the whole United Kingdom and the European Union that are free of tariffs, free of custom controls and largely free of regulatory distinctions; indeed, as near as possible to the single market and customs union that we are in? Just talking about a free trade agreement is an extremely vague aspiration that covers a wide range of possibilities. Can he demonstrate that he really is a liberal free trader at heart?