Vicky Ford: During this debate, even my hon. Friend the Member for Altrincham and Sale West (Sir Graham Brady), the chair of the 1922 committee, urged the Brexit Secretary and the Prime Minister, in the strongest possible terms, to redouble their efforts to get reassurance on the backstop. Our Prime Minister has gone back to ask EU leaders to work again on the backstop, because Members of this...
Vicky Ford: The right hon. Gentleman is making a passionate plea to buy more time for negotiations. Does he not agree that there is a huge risk, because the European elections mean that everybody on the other side of the negotiating table is likely to change in the European Parliament and the European Commission? It is therefore important to finalise these negotiations before the European Parliament...
Vicky Ford: It seems to me that we have two options—either a Parliament like the European Parliament, where everything is agreed in advance and what someone says in the Chamber does not affect anybody’s opinion or change anything, or a Parliament like this Parliament, where debate is dynamic and Ministers listen to what is said. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this is a better place to be?
Vicky Ford: I genuinely believe that there are Members on the Labour Back Benches who, like me, want to avoid a no-deal Brexit and the risks of a divisive second referendum. I therefore urge the Minister, whom I know to be a thoughtful listener, to spend some of the time that has become available in his diary with some of those Labour Back Benchers, to see whether their concerns can be addressed.
Vicky Ford: It is in everybody’s interests to try to find an amicable solution. Can the Secretary of State confirm the rumours going around on social media that the Prime Minister is due to meet the Dutch Prime Minister in the morning and to have further discussions with Michel Barnier and team during the week?
Vicky Ford: The items just put on the agenda—on addressing fuel poverty, reducing youth violence, the workings of the courts and helping endangered species—are all very important issues to our constituents, so can the Leader of the House confirm—[Interruption.]
Vicky Ford: I do not laugh about issues such as the need to address youth violence. Can the Leader of the House confirm categorically that the House will have time to debate and to have the meaningful vote?
Vicky Ford: What steps his Department is taking to reduce homelessness.
Vicky Ford: Labour Members seemed to suggest that they wanted to tear up the withdrawal agreement and go and negotiate something different with Brussels. Does my right hon. Friend agree that all trade agreements take time to negotiate, and that this withdrawal agreement gives us the breathing space to finalise that trade agreement and tearing it up is irresponsible?
Vicky Ford: Will the hon. Gentleman give way?
Vicky Ford: I have seen the EU at first hand, with its bureaucratic, one-size-fits-all approach that can make it feel so out of touch. If those other EU leaders had shown more empathy for David Cameron in his negotiation, perhaps we would not be where we are today. However, I have also seen the EU doing good. I helped to negotiate the changes we needed to international banking law after the financial...
Vicky Ford: Page 9 of the future framework agreement talks about “suspension and withdrawal of equivalence decisions” being agreed mutually. That is enhanced equivalence.
Vicky Ford: I thank the Chancellor for giving way. Does he agree that, under the withdrawal agreement, the UK will continue to trade on the same basis not just with the EU, but with the EEA and other countries, which means that companies such as Young’s of Grimsby would not face a cliff edge, but that if we vote against this agreement, then all is uncertain?
Vicky Ford: This year has been a fabulous one for women in Parliament, and it would be excellent if this centenary year could leave a lasting legacy for those to come. Yesterday, the all-party group on women in Parliament—I encourage women from across the Floor to come along—met Professor Sarah Childs to look at her report on “The Good Parliament” and see what more can be implemented. Given the...
Vicky Ford: Our country’s children are our country’s future. Yesterday, Ofsted reported that 95% of early years providers are now rated good or outstanding, up from 74% six years ago. Will the Prime Minister join me in thanking all those who work in early years organisations for giving our children the very best start in life?
Vicky Ford: The Prime Minister gave us seven reasons why the EU will not be using the backstop. Yesterday, the Attorney General made it completely clear that the backstop, if it ever came into place, would be challengeable under EU law itself. I say to my greatly respected colleague that I think he is promoting “Project Fear”. What is his option—
Vicky Ford: The one item that is in the control of all of us is which way we vote on Tuesday. The right hon. Leader of the Opposition has said that he does not want no deal. The EU leaders have made it clear that it is this deal or no deal. Does he realise that it will be his vote that pushes us into no deal? That is what he is asking us to vote for.
Vicky Ford: I congratulate the Prime Minister on two years of the trickiest negotiations in our lifetime. Some of my colleagues in this House seem to think that, if they reject this deal on Tuesday, the other EU27 leaders will come back and give us something better, but why should they?
Vicky Ford: I would like to drill down a little on the point about the customs union. As I read the withdrawal agreement and the future framework, the Government have negotiated single market access that is tariff-free and quota-free and that carries no rules of origin checks. Effectively, the benefits of the customs union are in that package. What more does the hon. Lady want?
Vicky Ford: The Government negotiating team have offered briefings on this deal to every Member of the House from every party. Establishing the answer to those rules of origin—