Leaving the European Union — [David Hanson in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 5:34 pm on 4th February 2019.

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Photo of Paul Blomfield Paul Blomfield Shadow Minister (Exiting the European Union) 5:34 pm, 4th February 2019

The hon. Gentleman raises a much broader question. There would not be fees in relation to the customs union, but, as the Government have acknowledged, there clearly will be payments for other schemes and partnerships that we might want to be part of; the Minister might want to comment on that. There are no fees in relation to the customs union, but there would be if we were to be part of the Horizon 2020 framework programme 9 on research across the European continent. We would pay something in and we would get something out.

There are many other schemes, if we were part of the agencies and partnerships: take Euratom, the European Atomic Energy Community. We are spending an enormous amount of money replicating arrangements that we could have continued to benefit from as a member of Euratom. There is no additional benefit to the UK in that; it is just a separation of functions because of the obsession with the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, which has never ruled on anything relating to Euratom that would be of any concern to the United Kingdom.

My point is that, at that juncture after the referendum, there was an opportunity to reach out to the majority that existed in Parliament for a sensible Brexit. I campaigned to remain, but I recognise the outcome of the referendum. Instead, the Prime Minister let the ERG set the agenda, set the red lines and box her in, leading to the deeply damaging proposal that the House so overwhelmingly rejected a couple of weeks ago. She is putting her party before her country, just as David Cameron did before her, and the country is facing the consequences.

It is not too late. As an Opposition, we are willing to talk about that sensible Brexit deal—a relationship with a customs union, single market, rights and protections, agencies and partnerships. To answer a question that I was anticipating the hon. Member for St Albans would ask, although she did not: if the Prime Minister will not go there, we will consider the option of a further public vote to break the impasse. Nevertheless, whatever happens over the next seven weeks, we cannot and should not rule out an extension of article 50.