Transition Period: Cabinet Discussions

Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office – in the House of Commons on 13th October 2020.

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Photo of Simon Jupp Simon Jupp Conservative, East Devon

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on progress in ensuring that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on progress in ensuring that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on progress in ensuring that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on progress in ensuring that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Conservative, Ashfield

What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on progress in ensuring that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

It remains our intention and our hope to reach an agreement with the EU, but as a responsible Government, we continue to make extensive preparations for a wide range of scenarios. The two Cabinet Committees focused on EU exit strategy and operations meet regularly to discuss the Government’s work, to ensure that the UK is prepared for the end of the transition period.

Photo of Simon Jupp Simon Jupp Conservative, East Devon

I thank the Minister for her response. The new Department will no doubt have a busy autumn, as it looks to seize the many opportunities that lay ahead. What discussions have been held with the Department for International Trade to ensure that the Government sing from the same hymn sheet in their future trade negotiations on food, animal welfare and environmental standards?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

I can assure my hon. Friend that FCDO Ministers are in regular contact with DIT colleagues on a range of trade-related issues. The UK Government have been consistently clear that we will never sign a trade deal that would compromise the UK’s high environmental protection, animal welfare and food safety standards. All existing food safety provisions will be retained.

Photo of Suzanne Webb Suzanne Webb Conservative, Stourbridge

Two thirds of my constituents in Stourbridge voted to leave the EU—“Roll on 31 December” is the message I hear loud and clear. Does the Minister agree that we must strongly back the Government’s negotiating position to deliver a trade deal that takes back control of our money, laws and borders, but that we should not be afraid to fall back on an Australian-style arrangement if necessary?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

My hon. Friend asks an important question. We continue to work hard towards reaching an agreement with the EU. We want a deal with free trade provisions similar to those that the EU agreed with Canada, and if that is not possible, we will have a trading relationship similar to how Australia trades with the EU. Either way, we will be leaving the single market and the customs union.

Photo of Mark Eastwood Mark Eastwood Conservative, Dewsbury

The United Kingdom has a proud history of defending human rights. Does the Minister agree that a key benefit of leaving the European Union for our foreign policy is the ability to put in place our own independent sanctions regime, allowing us to go further on human rights than the EU?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Yes, the UK will indeed pursue an independent sanctions policy driven by our foreign policy objectives. We established a global human rights sanctions regime on 6 July, which gives us new powers to fight those involved in serious human rights abuses. The sanctions we recently imposed on individuals in Belarus are a good example. Sanctions are best delivered, though, through collective action, and we will continue to work with EU and other international partners.

Photo of Simon Baynes Simon Baynes Conservative, Clwyd South

Does the Minister agree that the end of the transition period will herald a global Britain with more freedom to follow our own path in the world, to the benefit of my constituents in Clwyd South?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

Yes. At the end of this year, the process of transition will be complete, and we will recover our economic and political independence. That is why we did not extend the transition period. We need to be able to design our own rules in our best interests, without the constraints of following the EU.

Photo of Lee Anderson Lee Anderson Conservative, Ashfield

The UK now has a new role outside the EU as global Britain. Will my hon. Friend advise the people of Ashfield what the FCDO’s priorities should be in the future?

Photo of Wendy Morton Wendy Morton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office)

The Government’s integrated review, which is ongoing, will define the UK’s role in the world and the longer-term strategic aims for our national security and foreign policy following our departure from the European Union. We are committed to the UK being a force for good in the world, defending open societies, free trade, democracy and human rights.