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Future Relationship with the EU: Negotiations

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 1:10 pm on 19th May 2020.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 1:10 pm, 19th May 2020

I am grateful to the hon. Lady for her questions, which touch on critical issues in these negotiations. We believe that a zero-tariff, zero-quota deal is available; indeed, that is the explicit aim of the political declaration to which the EU has said it will apply its best endeavours.

On working standards, we are confident that we will continue to remain a leader, in not just Europe but the world, in workplace protection and the support we give to all our citizens. It has been the case all the time we have been in the EU that we have maintained higher standards than other European countries. Indeed, countries outside the EU, such as Norway, also lead the world in this way.

New regulatory bodies are in the process of being set out to ensure that all businesses have the certainty they need. When it comes to scientific research, we are committed to collaborating with European and other partners. As the hon. Lady knows, there are countries outside the EU that take part in the Horizon programme, including, of course, our friends in Israel.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right that peace in Northern Ireland is critical, and we will shortly publish a framework document on how we intend to implement the protocol to ensure that we have unfettered access for goods from Northern Ireland into Great Britain and that we preserve the gains of the peace process.

The final point the hon. Lady asked about was certainty. She said uncertainty was a problem, and indeed it is—uncertainty over Labour’s position. On 2 January, the leader of the Labour party called for a two-year extension to our transition period. In April, he said once again that we should extend if necessary. But, then, earlier this month, he turned turtle and said:

“I’ve not called for a pause”.

Then, on Sunday, the hon. Lady said we “mustn’t rush this” and that, if the Government need to, they should come back and expand the timetable. So which is it? Is the Labour party committed to making sure that we leave the transition period on the 31st?