David Davis: I start by apologising for my voice. Once again, I have acquired the single European cough, but I hope that it will pass. Negotiations regarding our exit from the European Union are ongoing as we speak. Indeed, we are in the middle of an ongoing round. As such, I have to be a bit more circumspect than usual. We held further talks in Brussels over the past few days and progress has been made,...
David Davis: The right hon. and learned Gentleman’s speeches in such proceedings are becoming rather repetitive—they are always crowing and carping. [Interruption.]
David Davis: Given my voice, I will wait it out, Mr Speaker. Let us start with this issue of the single market and customs union. I am glad to see the shadow Chancellor in the Chamber, because he said earlier this year that remaining in the single market would be interpreted as “not respecting” the referendum result. The shadow International Trade Secretary—I cannot see him...
David Davis: My hon. Friend, who has a long history of wisdom in this subject—[Interruption.] Wisdom—he saw it before most Opposition Members did. He has a long history with this subject, and he explains better than I could why we said that no divergence is a bad option.
David Davis: Shall I reply?
David Davis: I will answer very briefly. First, I am very surprised by the hon. Gentleman, of all people, being so dismissive of small nations. Secondly, the Scottish Government document to which he refers was read carefully, and many of its elements are consistent with our negotiating strategy, not least the aim of protecting employment rights. I really think he should recognise that.
David Davis: My right hon. Friend makes his point well. I have already confirmed that the integrity of the United Kingdom comes first. That is why we have adopted the strategy of saying that the issue of maintaining a free border—an open border; a frictionless border—is best dealt with in the next phase: phase 2. Indeed, that is not just my view, but the view of the Taoiseach, who said on 20...
David Davis: I am afraid that, uncharacteristically, the right hon. Gentleman is just wrong about that. I just read out the comment from the Taoiseach in August and a comment from his own Front-Bench spokesman about this subject, and I have set out the views of other Labour Front Benchers who are completely dismissive of being in the customs union in the long run. They are right, I am afraid, in this respect.
David Davis: My right hon. Friend makes her case with her characteristic tenacity. She can have this as a guarantee from me: we will not be treating any part of the United Kingdom differently from any other part.
David Davis: I think that the hon. Lady was elected on a manifesto pledge to respect the result of the referendum, and her own shadow Chancellor said that staying in would not respect that result.
David Davis: The red line, for me, is delivering the best Brexit for Britain, and that is what we will do.
David Davis: As ever, the hon. Gentleman asks an intelligent question, and I will answer it as clearly as I can. He said that we are making a choice. We are, and it is based not on any one party, but on 17.5 million votes that were cast to leave the European Union.
David Davis: My hon. Friend is of course right. The other thing we can say is that 85% of the Members of this House were elected on manifestos that said they would respect that referendum. [Interruption.]
David Davis: I refer the right hon. Lady to the speech that the Prime Minister made in Florence, because in it she dealt with—[Interruption.] Clearly, if Opposition Members cannot read, that is not a problem. I refer the right hon. Lady to that speech, because in it the Prime Minister made a very plain case for the sorts of divergence that we would see after we left. She said that there are areas in...
David Davis: My hon. Friend is right, and that was part of the text that we discussed yesterday. Of course there will be ups and downs and pressure points—that is what negotiations are like. I have to tell the House that yesterday it was not London but Brussels that forecast an instant outcome. We had said that Monday’s discussion was a “staging post”, and we want to get to the...
David Davis: The hon. Lady makes a point that is, I am sure, supported by many members of the public. I said at the beginning of the process more than a year ago that I would be unusually courteous and polite to the other side in this negotiation. I will continue to be so, because that is the best way to advance the British cause.
David Davis: I think I said to my hon. Friend when he was Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee that we had a great deal of contingency planning under way to deal with all options, from the option we are seeking—the free trade agreement—right down to the option we are not seeking, which is no agreement. That is the whole range, and we are looking at and planning for all those outcomes. More...
David Davis: The right hon. Gentleman is dead right. It is no surprise that the Democratic Unionist party stands for the United Kingdom. So, equally, does the Conservative and Unionist party.
David Davis: The presumption of the discussion was that everything we talked about applied to the whole United Kingdom. I reiterate that alignment is not harmonisation. It is not having exactly the same rules; it is sometimes having mutually recognised rules, mutually recognised inspection and all that sort of thing. That is what we are aiming at.
David Davis: If the hon. Lady will forgive a factual correction, people certainly did. The Prime Minister at the time did so, as did the Chancellor at the time and, I think, the leaders of the leave and remain campaigns. I suggest that the hon. Lady looks at the records of “The Andrew Marr Show”, on which they all said that.