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Trade Barriers: Potential Cost

Volume 614: debated on Thursday 8 September 2016

2. If he will estimate the potential cost to the economy of trade barriers between the UK and EU countries after the UK has left the EU. (906155)

We are going to make a success of Brexit. As the Prime Minister made clear ahead of the G20 summit, the UK will continue to be a powerful advocate for free and fair trade.

I thank the Minister for that answer, such as it was. Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU and the single European market, the largest trading bloc in the world which benefits consumers and businesses across Renfrewshire and right across Scotland. Will he be advising the Prime Minister to negotiate to remain inside the single market, yes or no?

First, I remind the hon. Gentleman that more Scottish people voted to remain in the UK than voted to remain in the EU. But on the subject of the single market, our objective will be to gain as much access as we can, consistent with the way people across the whole of the UK voted on 23 June. That is the purpose of our approach.

Do Ministers agree that Britain voted overwhelmingly for Brexit and we should stop listening to the doom-mongers, recognise the democratic will of 17 million people, and all work together to make this the huge success it is going to be?

My hon. Friend is right. As the Prime Minister said, Brexit means Brexit, and we need to make the most of the opportunities our departure presents, getting out into the world and doing business right across the globe, banging the drum for Britain and doing trade.

I, too, welcome the Secretary of State and his Front-Bench team to their places.

We know that the Secretary of State would like the UK to be outside the customs union and his colleague the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union believes that at the end of this process the UK will be outside the single market. We also know that the Prime Minister disagrees with both of them. May I ask the Minister to ask the Secretary of State for International Trade if he stands by his statement in July when he said:

“If the price of the relationship with the single market is free movement of people, it’s a price I’m not willing to pay”?

Does he still want to leave the European single market, yes or no?

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer that I gave to her colleague, the hon. Member for Paisley and Renfrewshire North (Gavin Newlands), just a few seconds ago. I want to make it quite clear that there will be no running commentary on the negotiations at this stage. She will know how important that is, following last year’s negotiations between the UK Government and the Scottish Government on the fiscal framework, at which time the Scottish Government understood perfectly the importance of not providing a running commentary.

I agree with my right hon. Friend that we should not be showing our hand when we go into such massive negotiations as these, but will he expand on the parliamentary process behind any new trade deals with the EU and any other trading bloc?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Of course we would want to keep Parliament involved and consulted in relation to new trade deals, but precisely what format that will take is a matter for us and for the House authorities.

“No running commentary” is politician-speak for not having a clue. How is the Minister getting on with delivering on the promise made by the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union that the Government would

“trigger a large round of global trade deals with all our most favoured trade partners”

by tomorrow?

It is a bit rich for Opposition Members to talk about having a clue. I noted with interest the Leader of the Opposition yesterday attacking something he called “free trade dogma”. Let us be absolutely clear: the Prime Minister has said that under her leadership, Britain will seek to become the global leader in free trade, and that is what we will do.