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Brexit - Motion to Take Note

Part of the debate – in the House of Lords at 3:25 pm on 19th October 2019.

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Photo of Lord Callanan Lord Callanan Minister of State (Department for Exiting the European Union) 3:25 pm, 19th October 2019

I will certainly write to the noble Lord outlining the changes to the political declaration and place a copy in the Library for other Members.

We will also be working hard to secure trade deals with other international partners. Let me reassure the noble Lord, Lord Rooker, that while we explore these new trading opportunities, we will not dilute the standards for which British products are world renowned—and, as the Prime Minister has made clear on many occasions, nor will our NHS be on the table in those negotiations.

The political declaration also provides for a security relationship that will enable the UK and the EU jointly to combat the shared threats faced by our citizens, domestically and abroad. This revised deal further makes it clear that participation in defence co-operation will always be the sovereign choice of the United Kingdom.

Of course, this deal does not consist just of these changes. We are offering a deal that not only removes the anti-democratic backstop but, more broadly, maintains our strong commitment to citizens’ rights and to a transition period, which gives welcome stability to businesses both in the UK and the EU, and also lays the foundations for us to commence negotiations for an ambitious future relationship. Noble Lords will have noticed, I am sure, that Article 184 of the withdrawal agreement requires both sides to use best endeavours to get this legal text agreed and implemented by the end of 2020. Both sides are committed to making preparations for an immediate start to the formal negotiations and to approach these in good faith. Noble Lords should know—I think I outlined it last week—that we are preparing for these negotiations and we will work with Parliament as well as a wide range of partners, including, of course, in the devolved Administrations, to ensure a successful outcome that delivers in the interests of all parts of our United Kingdom.

The noble Earl, Lord Kinnoull, asked about the Government’s approach to the Joint Committee. I can confirm that it will be underpinned by full ministerial accountability to Parliament, and that the Government will continue to discuss with Parliament and its committees the appropriate ways to achieve this.

It is late on a Saturday afternoon and I will not seek to detain the House any further. We have heard many diverse views on the deal. I thank all noble Lords for their contributions. I also pay tribute to the House authorities, officials and my private office for making preparations so that we were all able to sit today. The deal that we have debated is one that will deliver the result of the 2016 referendum and ensure that we can leave the European Union on 31 October in an orderly and friendly way. The deal honours the territorial sovereignty of the United Kingdom; it ensures that the future of Northern Ireland will be decided by the people of Northern Ireland; it provides the foundations for an ambitious relationship with the EU founded on a comprehensive and balanced free trade arrangement; and it allows us to get Brexit done and leave the EU in two weeks’ time. In doing so, we can focus on the people’s priorities, so that the country can come together. I commend this deal to the House.

Motion agreed.