Future Relationship with the EU

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 12:35 pm on 9th June 2020.

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Photo of Penny Mordaunt Penny Mordaunt Paymaster General 12:35 pm, 9th June 2020

I thank the hon. Lady for those questions. At the start of her response, she made a powerful argument for not extending the transition period. If we have learned anything over the last few years, it is that that would only extend the negotiations. I agree that business, our citizens across the EU, and the rest of the world, with which we are also focused on trade negotiations, want to have certainty about the future, so we must press on with that. That is one of the many reasons why we will not extend the transition period.

The hon. Lady is also right to draw attention to the fact that the covid crisis is going on. I know that she is aware of the huge amount of work that was done last year on no-deal preparations, and the tremendous work that civil contingencies and all Government Departments have been doing to ensure that supply chains remain strong, that we can quickly adapt, and that we have stocks of all sorts of goods, including the medicines that we need. These are challenging at times, in the light of what the world is facing, but they are our focus. I assure her of the incredible work that those civil servants are doing to ensure that our citizens have what they need when they need it.

I take a keen interest in those areas as a former employee of the Freight Transport Association. We will shortly be saying more about our border operations. A tremendous amount of work has gone on to improve on our communication with businesses from every part of the UK last year to ensure that is good, and that we are not just giving people the right information, but picking up solutions from the sector, because that will be key to getting it right.

On the hon. Lady’s remarks about rights, animal welfare, security, zero tariffs and zero quotas, our policy has not changed. We will of course respect the Good Friday/Belfast agreement and we expect the EU to do the same.