United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 9:01 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Brendan Clarke-Smith Brendan Clarke-Smith Conservative, Bassetlaw 9:01 pm, 14th September 2020

We should not be here today debating the Bill, not because it is wrong but because it should not be necessary. We entered into an agreement with the European Union in good faith and it is a shame that that has not been reciprocated. Using third country listings, which should be a formality, as leverage on state aid and fisheries policy is not negotiating in good faith. Does the EU believe that its own rules and standards are not good enough now? Those are the rules and standards that we currently operate under. The EU knows them well, although it should be said that it is not always the best at following them.

We must now be explicit: Northern Ireland is not on the table, nor are the people who live there. They never have been. We will not accept the blockading of agriculture within our own country. The Bill is about making the choice very clear: Canada or Australia. The EU told us that the Canada deal was on the table, so what has suddenly changed?

The Bill gives us the option of protecting our internal markets and the status of Northern Ireland as an equal partner in this United Kingdom, not as a bargaining chip or an afterthought. I hope we never have to use it, but we owe it to the people of this country to make the provisions. We must stand in solidarity with the people of Northern Ireland and our hon. Friends in the Chamber from Northern Ireland to protect the status of the Union and the Belfast agreement. We will not allow the EU to divide us.

If the Opposition want us chained to EU rules and to make concessions on fisheries and state aid, they should say that. There is an old saying that starts with the phrase, “Give a man a fish”. Unfortunately, some would give a man as many fish as he wants. We should not run the risk of a blockade on agriculture between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Perhaps the EU wants to cut off its nose to spite its face, whatever the cost to itself and its economies at this difficult time. Perhaps it wants huge tariffs on our lamb, our pork and our beef, though I doubt it. It knows the risks and that, if my hon. Friends will excuse the term, the “steaks” are too high. That is why the Bill is so vital.

The European Union needs to learn that Northern Ireland and our precious Union are off the table. Our Opposition now need to come off the fence. I wholeheartedly support the Bill and urge others in the Chamber to do the same.