As we leave the EU, the Government’s objective remains to maximise overall trading opportunities for the whole of the United Kingdom. As the Prime Minister has made clear—including at the time of the joint declaration of 8 December—we will be seeking a deep and special partnership with the EU, but at the same time looking to forge new and ambitious trade relationships with our partners around the world, as we develop our independent trade policy.
What discussions has the Secretary of State had with potential new trade agreement partners, including those that already have an agreement with the EU and those with whom the Government have established trade dialogue or working groups, about regulatory alignment?
We are intending to maintain consistency with the agreements that we already have. That is why we brought the trade legislation forward. We do not anticipate any change in that; we intend it to be the same as it is to date, to provide continuity for business.
Can the Secretary of State confirm whether maintaining full regulatory alignment with the EU will extend to farming standards in the United Kingdom, and that therefore chlorine-washed chicken will not be entering the UK in the event of a future agreement with the USA?
We have made it very clear on numerous occasions that we do not intend there to be any diminution of standards in food safety, environmental standards or workers’ rights as we negotiate new trade agreements.
Given how critical this issue is to maintaining an open border on the island of Ireland, what assessment has the Secretary of State made of practical supervision and management of maintaining full regulatory alignment with the European Union as per the joint agreement, and what institutions need to be established?
Alignment is about pursuing the same objectives; it is not the same as requiring regulatory harmonisation. We hope that our agreement with the Republic of Ireland is covered by a full and comprehensive agreement with the rest of the European Union.
The Irish Government have been clear that a deal that maintains regulatory alignment means free movement of people, goods and services across the border to Northern Ireland. Given that the United Kingdom Government have shown that they are willing to give a nation of the UK a differential deal, will they now bring to Brussels the Scottish Government’s proposals to keep Scotland in the single market and customs union, and if not, why not?
Why not? Because when we leave the European Union we leave the single market and the customs union—it is not that complicated.