EU-UK Partnership: EU’s Mandate

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:14 pm on 4th June 2020.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Paymaster General 4:14 pm, 4th June 2020

I have six minutes or less, so I will do my best to answer the points that hon. Members have raised. I want to thank everyone who has taken part in the debate, and I thank Paul Blomfield for not pressing the amendment. We stand fully with our commitments in the withdrawal agreement and the political declaration, but it is not possible to conduct a debate based on selective quotes from that long and complex document. The hon. Gentleman raised issues around scrutiny. My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster has updated the House at every round of the negotiations—sometimes that has had to be through written ministerial statements—and he has also appeared three times before the Committee on the future relationship with the European Union, on 11 March, 27 April and 28 May, as well as before the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee.

With regard to the hon. Gentleman’s point on the devolved Administrations, we have worked extremely hard to meet their concerns around ensuring that they are properly briefed and that they can engage directly. There have been material changes to our negotiating position as a consequence of that, and the latest is that we are now, at their request, meeting as a quad as opposed to on an individual basis. We will continue to adapt how we engage, at their request.

I echo the tributes that have been paid to my hon. Friend Sir William Cash and all those involved in the production of the report. There are many reasons for Brexit. The economic benefit is a key one, and he is absolutely right to say that when we deliver on Brexit, we must preserve those economic opportunities. His points on state aid, fishing and no European Court of Justice are well made and well understood. The Government’s negotiating position remains that the mandate is the starting point for the negotiations, and the position outlined in the EU’s mandate is not one that we will ever accept.

Joanna Cherry raised concerns about the transition period. We will not extend the transition period. It would simply prolong negotiations and bring further uncertainty to business and the general public. We have all experienced what that is like, and I do not think we want it again. It is perfectly possible to get a deal in the timeframe. We are working on many precedents and many texts that already exist. It is possible to do that, and we are working very hard to do it.

My hon. Friend James Wild was right to raise the danger of prolonged uncertainty. He is very much across the detail, and I know that he will be fighting to ensure that we deliver on this for his constituents. Sammy Wilson raised understandable concerns around the issue of state aid. I can confirm that we will develop our own separate, independent policy on subsidies, and in doing so, it is one of our key objectives that we will have a modern system for supporting British business in a way that fulfils its interests in every part of the United Kingdom.

My hon. Friend Lee Rowley reminds us of the opportunities that our new freedoms will bring and also that democracy matters. I agree wholeheartedly with those remarks. Rushanara Ali raised understandable concerns about the pressures that businesses and communities are facing because of covid—