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I thank the Minister, back again after his long stint on Saturday—and no doubt looking forward to the XO committee, which I believe he serves on, meeting seven days a week—for repeating the Statement.
However, I have to question the underlying assumption, and indeed perhaps even the legality, of these preparations. If Mr Gove is so confident that we will leave on
On Saturday, the Minister attempted to throw back at me the claim I had made that,
“there is no desire for a deal. It is all a ruse”,—[
For all the talk of providing certainty, especially for business, this continued no-deal work is unsettling the financial, manufacturing, agricultural and service sectors. As Ian Wright of the Food and Drink Federation said, while we might all be “exhausted” by Brexit, this does not,
“mean we sleepwalk into mistakes that will haunt the UK economy for a generation … The most urgent priority for the … industry has been to prevent a no-deal exit”.
He also pleads for sufficient time in the implementation period after the legislation,
“for businesses to fully adapt”,
“the damaging loss of frictionless trade and regulatory divergence with the EU that the new deal heralds”.
“Ford is leaving Bridgend, where it has 1,700 jobs—with 12,000 jobs across the south Wales economy—because it was worried about a no-deal Brexit”.—[Official Report, Commons, 19/10/19; col. 615.]
She also fears that even the new deal risks the end of just-in-time manufacturing. What are we doing preparing for an outcome that could devastate our valleys, our industrial heartlands, jobs and the economy?
The pretence that we need to make urgent preparations for a no-deal exit, which the Commons has voted against, is all for show. I do not know whether other noble Lords were as angry as I was when, late on Saturday night, I read in the PM’s billet-doux to Donald Tusk of the,
“corrosive impact of the long delay in delivering”,
Brexit—as if it had nothing to do with him. Who was in Government and then resigned in July last year at the time of the Chequers deal? Who refused to support the original deal in November, causing further delay? Who has now manufactured the totem of
Before I finish, I want to say two positive things. There is one really welcome statement in what we have just heard: that the Commons will be involved in agreeing the mandate for negotiations on our future partnership arrangements with the EU—effectively, I think, the Monks-Lea amendment that we put to the 2018 Bill, and which sadly did not survive in the Commons, and the Trade Bill amendment passed in your Lordships’ House. We have yet to see the withdrawal agreement Bill; we will see it later this evening. If, once we have seen it, that commitment to the prior approval of the negotiating mandate is included in the Bill, we on this side will at least cheer that.
I absolutely concur with what the Minister said on behalf of the other House, and what we should also say here, about the incredible work across the House to enable us to meet on Saturday. If I heard my noble friend right earlier, I fear that they may be requested to do it again, in which case it may have to be a “please” as well as a “thank you”.