Kwasi Kwarteng: What my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has got right is the fact that we need a solution to the impasse. That is why this week, she has very openly invited the Leader of the Opposition to talks to track a way forward.
Kwasi Kwarteng: In respect of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister listening to diverse views, my understanding is that she spoke to the First Minister of Scotland yesterday and has been engaged in conversations with her. The position of the Government has always been the same: we favour a deal. We want to leave the EU with a negotiated deal, but it would be irresponsible of the Government not to prepare...
Kwasi Kwarteng: The Government have undertaken extensive work to identify the legislation essential to deliver our exit from the EU. In fact, as I speak, almost all the statutory instruments—93% of them—required for a functioning statute book on exit day have been laid before Parliament.
Kwasi Kwarteng: I reject the assumption behind the question. As I stated, almost all the SIs required—93% of something like 600—have been passed. She is quite right that there are Bills currently in Parliament that are being discussed and that are going through both Houses. All those Bills provide for a range of negotiation outcomes, as she knows, including a no-deal scenario.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Given what we have seen in the past few weeks, I would never use “inconceivable”; anything can happen, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. I am confident that we will get a deal through. I am hopeful of that, because that is the only way that we will get a negotiated and orderly exit from the EU.
Kwasi Kwarteng: The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have had extensive meetings across the country, and I have seen many companies. We continue to recognise the importance of UK manufacturing and of maintaining a close trading relationship with the EU. As the political declaration sets out, we have already agreed to establish a free trade area for goods. We recognise that manufacturing is an essential...
Kwasi Kwarteng: I will tell the hon. Gentleman about failure. What is actually crippling and increasing uncertainty for his manufacturing sector is his repeated rejection of the deal, which would actually have an implementation period and would give certainty and direction to the very companies he seeks to represent in the House.
Kwasi Kwarteng: The question I ask myself—[Hon. Members: “Answer!”] I am answering the hon. Lady’s question. Given that she has so much concern for manufacturing interests in her constituency, why on earth has she rejected, on three occasions, the only deal that would provide certainty and a degree of consistency for the companies she seeks to represent?
Kwasi Kwarteng: Obviously, manufacturing is vital to everything we do. We remain committed, through our industrial strategy, to making the UK the best place to start and grow a business. There are now 3.5 million more people in work than in 2010. It seems very remiss for Opposition Members to complain about uncertainty when they have rejected the deal not once, not twice, but three times. This deal will...
Kwasi Kwarteng: First, I would like to confirm to the House that we are not zombies. Secondly, Spelthorne has manufacturing interests, as the hon. Gentleman’s constituency does. The manufacturing interests in my constituency always tell me, “Back the Prime Minister’s deal—back certainty. Let’s get this thing over the line and move on with our lives.” That is what they want.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Obviously, it has been the Government’s repeated intention not to leave without a deal. The hon. Gentleman will know that part 3 of the withdrawal agreement deals extensively with the kind of regulations that would be in place in the implementation period, which, if the deal goes through, will give us another 20 months to negotiate a free trade agreement.
Kwasi Kwarteng: My hon. Friend will appreciate that a second referendum would have a very corrosive impact not only on our politics, but on trust, which has been mentioned many times. A clear instruction was given in 2016 to withdraw from the EU, and that is what the Government remain absolutely committed to fulfilling.
Kwasi Kwarteng: My hon. Friend is quite right: holding a second referendum would create enormous uncertainty that would undermine the strong economic achievement of the Government and of our businesses. It would essentially take us back to square one and result in more delay at a time when the public simply want politicians to deliver what they promised.
Kwasi Kwarteng: In respect of the second referendum, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove), it is Government policy to honour the 2016 referendum. That is what we have been tasked to do, and that is what we are 100% focused on. The second referendum is a red herring, frankly. It is not something that we countenance. We want to deliver on the 2016 referendum.
Kwasi Kwarteng: The UK’s IP regime does indeed represent a gold standard internationally, and that will not change as we leave the EU.
Kwasi Kwarteng: I have travelled in the north-east, although not quite in the hon. Lady’s constituency, and I have seen chemicals firms in the petrochemicals industry. They say with one voice that they want a solution to this impasse, just as we do in this House. They want to have a deal, to have the implementation period and to move on from this.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Yes, yes.
Kwasi Kwarteng: Last night, the Prime Minister met Donald Tusk, following the EU Council’s discussion on the UK’s request for the approval of the Strasbourg supplementary documents and for a short extension to the article 50 process. The Council agreed, subject to this House approving the withdrawal agreement next week, an extension of the article 50 period to 22 May. This provides Parliament with time...
Kwasi Kwarteng: The hon. Gentleman asks a number of questions and makes a number of assertions, some of which are simply not true, frankly. The idea that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has refused to compromise is an exaggeration; I do not think that is an accurate reflection of what has happened. With respect to his remarks about the meaningful vote, the Leader of the House set out clearly in her...
Kwasi Kwarteng: indicated dissent.