Trade Bill - Second Reading

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 4:54 pm on 11th September 2018.

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Photo of Lord Hamilton of Epsom Lord Hamilton of Epsom Conservative 4:54 pm, 11th September 2018

I am not going to give way again. The noble Baroness cannot go on getting up; I have only a limited amount of time. It must be right that we sign up to the government procurement agreements as well, because they involve a lot more countries. This will make it easier for us to leave the EU without an agreement and resort to the WTO.

It is interesting that, during the progress of these negotiations, the whole idea of going to the WTO and having no deal on trade has been taken off the table. Let us face it: the Government had a very weak hand, and no deal was the only ace in that hand. It almost defies credibility that, at one point during the negotiations, it was taken off the table. Now there is a lot of preparation being done for no deal and for the WTO. This Bill will form part of the preparation.

The whole attitude of the EU has completely changed. There are a large number of manufacturers in the EU saying, “What does the WTO mean for us?”. What it means for German car manufacturers is a 10% tariff on all assembled cars they send to this country. Everybody says, “Oh, it’s a much smaller amount of trade for the EU than it is for us”—as the noble Lord, Lord Butler, did a moment ago. The eurozone sells us one and a half times as much as we sell to them, and the Germans sell twice as much in manufactured goods to us as we do to them. So it does impact on them. There was a moment when we were told that we were being the laggards of Europe and that our growth rates were falling. I agree that you cannot believe quarterly figures, but now our growth rates are up by a margin over those of the EU. So the EU is not in such a strong economic position that it can say, “For political reasons, to punish the British, we are going to have a really hard deal which means that we sell less to them than they do to us”.

Let us look at what has actually happened. It was not that long ago—before the election, I must admit—that the Prime Minister said that no deal was better than a bad deal. That was in the days when Nick Timothy was her special adviser. As a result of the general election, he has gone. Now we have Olly Robbins instead, and we seem to be in the position where any deal is better than no deal. The result has been the Chequers agreement. In my opinion, this is a complete dog’s breakfast that could have been dreamed up only by a civil servant. Why have we moved away from the simplicity of a Canada free trade deal with serious additions? I do not understand why that was ever taken off the table and why we are in the nonsensical position that we are today. If this country is going to have a future, we want a clearly understood deal, based on Canada. That will get us out of the EU and trading as the Canadians intend to do in the future.