United Kingdom Internal Market Bill

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 7:41 pm on 14th September 2020.

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Photo of Andrea Leadsom Andrea Leadsom Conservative, South Northamptonshire 7:41 pm, 14th September 2020

It is always a great pleasure to follow Meg Hillier. I have a lot of respect for her opinions, but I fundamentally disagree with her on this.

I look around the Chamber at so many dear colleagues with whom I have debated at quite some length over the past four years—nearly four and a half years. This has been so frustrating. Leaving the EU has been the most divisive subject since June 2016. We now have to get to the end of the transition period. We really want a free trade deal as an independent sovereign nation with our EU friends and neighbours that works in the interests of every part of our United Kingdom, and also works in the interests of our EU friends and neighbours and protects their single market. On that, surely, we can agree—apart from perhaps a few of those who still wish we were having a second referendum, but let us not go there.

We negotiated the withdrawal agreement in good faith, as, I think, did the EU member states. The problem is that the Joint Committee, which was set up by that withdrawal agreement, was designed to provide the definitions. It was designed to give us clarity around what “goods at risk” meant, how the Northern Irish protocol would work, and all the details that, as yet, have not been ironed out. What we have discovered—

I can say this, having been part of Cabinet Sub-Committee meetings that discussed some of the EU’s proposals—is that the EU has not acted in good faith. I am very sorry to say that, because EU leaders do, as a rule, want to have good relationships with the United Kingdom, but the Commission has sought to reach into our sovereign United Kingdom and force us, as a member state that has left the EU, to abide by its rules on an ongoing basis, and that is utterly unacceptable.

I will be supporting the Bill today. The reason for that is that we, as the United Kingdom Government, must always be able to hold our heads up high to say that we have acted with integrity in the interests of our United Kingdom, that we are protecting the Belfast Good Friday agreement, and that we are giving the essential clarity and certainty to businesses that they desperately need. I urge all colleagues to please support the Bill tonight.