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House of Commons Hansard
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Economic Effects: Customs Union
14 December 2017
Volume 633
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10. Whether his Department has made an assessment of the economic effects of not forming a customs union with the EU after the UK has left the EU. [902937]

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In assessing the options for the UK’s future outside the customs union, the Government will be guided by what delivers the greatest economic advantage to the UK and by these three objectives: ensuring that UK-EU trade is as frictionless as possible; avoiding a hard border between Ireland and Northern Ireland; and establishing an independent trade policy.

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I understand that the Minister said in answer to an earlier question that some quantitative assessment has been undertaken in relation to leaving the customs union, and yet, last week, when he was in front of the Select Committee, the Secretary of State admitted that the Government had undertaken no quantitative assessment. Why is it that every time we ask a question in relation to Brexit, we get a different answer depending on the time, the day, or the Minister? If the Government simply cannot, or will not, say whether leaving the customs union will make Britain poorer, does the Minister not agree—

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Order. I think we have got the drift of what the right hon. Lady is trying to cover. Questions really need to be briefer. Otherwise, a lot of people lower down the Order Paper will not be reached, and it is not fair.

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The Secretary of State emphasised that there was not a formal quantitative impact statement, but was clear that a judgment was made on the basis of a range of evidence. The Government have been conducting an extremely broad overall programme of work on EU exit issues, and will continue to do so.

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Is the Minister aware of whether the EU Commission is assessing the economic effects on the remaining member states of not reaching a trade deal with the UK?

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I am sure that plenty of analytical work is being done on both sides, but as my hon. Friend knows, the EU Commission does not make all its analysis public.

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Surely quantitative assessments of the impact of leaving the EU on sectors of the UK economy should have been basic spade work for the negotiations.

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As the right hon. Gentleman will know, and we debated at great length, a huge amount of sectoral analysis has been done by the Government on these issues. I think that he discussed at length with the Secretary of State in the Select Committee why quantitative impact assessments were not considered appropriate.

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Surely one of the assessments that the Government have made is how much money we will save by not having to pay to access the customs union, as well as the impact on all sectors of industry in this country of being able to do our own trade deals around the world.

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My hon. Friend is absolutely right to draw attention to the opportunities for wider trade deals around the world. As the Prime Minister has said, we will not make the same huge payments to the EU that we have to date. That will mean more money for public services in the UK.