EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:57 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Richard Graham Richard Graham Conservative, Gloucester 3:57 pm, 4th June 2020

No, I am sorry. The right hon. Gentleman spoke for quite a long time earlier.

The issue today is really all about whether we will be able to achieve the deal with the European Union that so many of us around the Chamber, including the right hon. Gentleman and his distinguished colleagues, want to see. My hon. Friend Sir William Cash said earlier that Michel Barnier is trying to seduce remainers in this Chamber. Of course, there are no remainers left. We have already left the European Union and what matters now is the future relationship.

In that context, it is important that my right hon. Friend the Paymaster General helps in her summary this evening to address the point raised by the Leader of the House earlier when he referred, in answers at business questions, to the importance of ensuring that we leave this transition phase “successfully” by 31 December. I am in no doubt at all that we should leave at the end of this year. That is absolutely crucial. That is what we campaigned on. That is what this party campaigned on. That is how the election was won. But the definition of “successfully” is incredibly important.

The example of Nissan’s Sunderland factory is very relevant. The announcement of the closure of its Barcelona factory leaves Sunderland as Nissan’s sole manufacturer for Europe. That is a significant tribute to the productivity record of its factory and workers, but before we celebrate, we have to heed its global chief operating officer, who said that

“we are the number one carmaker in the UK and we want to continue” but that if Nissan is not getting the current tariffs—zero tariffs, rather than the 10% tariffs which would be imposed on vehicles and parts under WTO rules—the business will not be sustainable. He said:

“That’s what everyone has to understand.”

It would be helpful if my right hon. Friend would confirm that the Government are clear about the consequences of no deal at the end of this year, not just for Sunderland, but in the west midlands, and for automotive sector supply chains across the country. Of course this issue is not confined just to that sector. My right hon. Friend knows well the risks to farming, and the potential hazards for farmers who are selling sheep and beef, and particularly barley, across the channel. Explaining to our farmers at the beginning of 2021 that those exports will have significant tariffs attached would not be a welcome start to the year for them.

I have always believed in the commitment of the Prime Minister and the Government to get a deal that would be good for our nation and benefit the EU. Indeed, I defended the Prime Minister last summer when many doubted the strength of that commitment, and I hope nothing has changed to damage it. I hope that the contribution the deal can make to our economic revival, and to “bounce back Britain”, will be strong, because in my view anything that does not do that cannot possibly be seen as a successful outcome. The business of the EU understanding that we cannot possibly accept the jurisdiction of the European Courts as the dispute resolution—my hon. Friend the Member for Stone made that point—was highlighted by the Select Committee, and I hope that success means getting that deal as soon as possible.