EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 2:52 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Michael Gove Michael Gove Minister for the Cabinet Office and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster 2:52 pm, 4th June 2020

Yes, I think it would be a mistake. Different people have sincere views on this matter. For example, the Welsh Assembly Government—Labour—want an extension; the Mayor of London—Labour—wants an extension. The position of the Labour leader is not clear on this matter, but perhaps Paul Blomfield will enlighten us. The Scottish National party is clear in its view that there should be an extension, and the Democrat Unionist party is clear that there should not be. Every party in the House has a clear position—either for or against an extension—apart from the Labour party, although that point might be elucidated.

The reason I think we should not have an extension is that if we did, we would end up paying the EU more money, which we could spend on our own NHS. We would have to pay for continued membership. We would not know how much that would be; we know only that it would more than we currently pay on an annual basis. We would also be subject to rules shaped at European level, although we would have no say, and that would constrain our capacity to respond not just to the coronavirus crisis, but to other coming economic challenges. During that period, the decisions made by the EU27 will be, entirely legitimately, in their interests, and not necessarily in ours. That is why an extension would be unwise and run counter to the clearly expressed view of the British people when they elected my right hon. Friend Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, on a manifesto that clearly spelled out that we will leave the European Union’s transition period at the end of this year.

Before I sit down and allow other Members to make their points, I am conscious that the explanatory memorandums that some Departments have provided to the Committee chaired by my hon. Friend Sir William Cash have not always been as diligent and detailed as they should have been in ensuring that the European Scrutiny Committee can do its valued work. I assure my hon. Friend that I and the Paymaster General have spoken to all Departments to ensure that the Committee’s work can continue. It is vital, particularly during a period when we are not represented at European level, that any new addition to the acquis is scrutinised effectively by the House, and that the House has a chance to determine what response we make.

I look forward to contributions from across the House, and in particular I thank all 23 Select Committees that joined the European Scrutiny Committee in putting forward propositions for the Government to take account of during the course of the negotiations. I am grateful to Members from across the House for the continued and constructive engagement in helping us to secure a good deal.