We left the European Union at the end of January and we now have seven months to agree new arrangements with our nearest neighbours. It was always a tight timetable, but the Government have made it clear that they are sticking to it and we need them to get it right. The Government have promised an ambitious, broad, deep and flexible partnership with no tariffs, fees or charges; the safeguarding of workers’ rights; consumer and environmental protections; and a comprehensive security partnership. Let me push the Minister on those issues.
First, on the economy, will the Minister tell the House what concrete progress was made last week on ensuring that British businesses will face no tariffs, fees or quotas on any goods exported to the EU? What assurances can he give to workers with regards to maintaining and improving existing labour standards?
Secondly, on our regulatory framework, leaving the European Medicines Agency, the Chemicals Agency and the Aviation Safety Agency means new regulatory bodies will need to take on this work. Can the Minister guarantee that they will be up and running by the start of January?
Thirdly, on research, international collaboration on scientific research has never been as important as it is today. What assurances can the Minister give on our future participation in the Horizon research programme?
Fourthly, peace in Northern Ireland was hard won. We must not jeopardise it. In January, the Prime Minister guaranteed unfettered access for goods moving between Britain and Northern Ireland. Last week, it was revealed that the Government would implement checks on some products crossing the Irish sea and that there would be new infrastructure at ports coming from mainland Britain to Northern Ireland. Can the Minister confirm whether those additional checks are being planned for when the road map for implementing the protocol will be published?
To conclude, we must not add to the uncertainty already being experienced right now. We need answers to the questions I have put today. I urge the Minister to act in the national interest to get a deal that is good for jobs, workers’ rights and scientific co-operation.