Amendment 41

Part of European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill - Committee (3rd Day) (Continued) – in the House of Lords at 3:30 pm on 16th January 2020.

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Photo of Earl Howe Earl Howe Deputy Leader of the House of Lords 3:30 pm, 16th January 2020

My Lords, I am grateful to the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, for introducing his amendment which, as he made clear, relates to the future economic relationship between the UK and the EU. Our agreement with the EU in the political declaration was expressed in the following words:

“to develop an ambitious, wide-ranging and balanced economic partnership. This partnership will be comprehensive, encompassing a Free Trade Agreement, as well as wider sectoral cooperation where it is in the mutual interest of both Parties.”

We look forward to working with our partners in the EU to negotiate this free trade agreement in the year to come. But on that, there is a basic point to be made. It would be neither possible nor appropriate to publish a detailed analysis of the specifics of an agreement that is yet to be negotiated. Indeed, publishing such a detailed report, as the noble Lord’s amendment would require, would completely undermine the UK’s negotiating position heading into the next stage.

There is a way to address the noble Lord’s concern that does not land us in that kind of trap. In November 2018, the Government published a detailed analysis that covered a broad range of possible EU exit scenarios. This report ran to over 80 pages and was designed to provide an understanding of how changes to our relationship with the EU might affect the United Kingdom’s economy in the long run. This is available for all to see.

In exactly the same vein, let me reassure the noble Lord that the Government remain committed to informing Parliament with the best analysis to support parliamentary scrutiny. We will do so at an appropriate time that does not impede our ability to strike the best deal for the UK. As I emphasised in our debates yesterday, we have also been clear that we will engage with the devolved Administrations and draw on their knowledge and expertise to secure an agreement that works for the whole of the UK.

I hope therefore that the noble Lord, Lord Wigley, will feel able to withdraw his amendment. I can assure him that the Government will continue to update the House with analysis at appropriate points.