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Topical Questions

Part of Exiting the European Union – in the House of Commons on 9th January 2020.

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Photo of Steve Barclay Steve Barclay The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union

Since our last departmental questions, we have contested the general election, where Brexit was the defining issue, and been given a renewed mandate by the British people to leave the European Union. As a result, we have been able to bring the withdrawal agreement back before the House. As was shown during its Committee stage this week, it is the will of this House that we now implement that decision.

That has been reflected, as referred to by the Chair of the Brexit Select Committee, Hilary Benn, in the decision to disband the Department for Exiting the European Union, as its purpose will have been achieved. I would like to take this opportunity to place on the record my thanks to all the officials in the Department and across Whitehall who have worked so tirelessly over the last three years to achieve this result, and to thank all my colleagues who have served in ministerial roles in the Department.

Yesterday, the Prime Minister and I met the new European Commission President and the European Union chief negotiator to discuss our shared desire for what the President described as a unique partnership reflecting our shared values as friends and neighbours.

During the three years that the Department has been in place, it has had three Secretaries of State and three permanent secretaries but, since the first departmental questions, just one shadow Brexit Secretary. Throughout my interactions with Keir Starmer, he has always been both professional and courteous while probing and challenging. Without wishing in any way to jinx his next steps, may I place on the record his contribution to the scrutiny of the Government, which I am sure will continue in whatever role he plays in the House moving forward?