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Leaving the EEA

Volume 634: debated on Tuesday 16 January 2018

14. What assessment his Department has made of the effect of the UK leaving the European economic area on the economy and the service industry. (903306)

The Government have undertaken a significant amount of work to assess the economic impacts of leaving the EU, and that is part of our continuing programme of rigorous and extensive analytical work on a range of scenarios. The Government are committed to keeping Parliament informed, provided that doing so would not risk damaging our negotiating position.

The Chancellor has said that he wants a jobs-first Brexit. Given that 80% of the British economy is in the services sector, and given that the EEA-based model of Brexit is the only one that gives maximum access for our services industries, does the Minister agree that an EEA-based Brexit is the only viable option for our country?

What we can agree is that the Government are united in working to secure the best and most ambitious Brexit deal. That will mean a bespoke deal that will not damage the long-term interests of the economy.

First, I welcome the Minister to his place in the Treasury. I am sure he will do an excellent job.

Is it not impossible to assess the impact of leaving, whether we are talking about the European economic area or the European Union, without knowing where we are headed? It is time for the Government to be clear about the end state of negotiations on financial services. I would like to see them publishing a position paper on financial services, particularly one informed by the meeting between the Prime Minister and the Chancellor last week.

I am extremely grateful to my right hon. Friend, the Chair of the Select Committee, for that. I am aware of her previous exchanges with the Chancellor, who has undertaken to look at this issue. I will be working with him and we will respond in due course.

Academic assessments by the Treasury are crucial, but my constituents are reeling from hundreds of job losses at Vauxhall. Last night’s comments by the chief executive officer of Airbus that whatever Brexit we have will be net negative means we are talking again about hundreds of my constituents’ jobs on the line. I plead with the Minister to take this seriously, keep us in the single market and customs union, and keep my constituents in their jobs.

I assure the hon. Lady that I take this very seriously, and the Government’s intention certainly is to negotiate a deep and special partnership on economic and security matters. There is room for positivity; if we look at what GSK, Google and Apple have said, we see that that attitude of positivity and optimism as we look forward is necessary.

Does my hon. Friend agree that since deciding to leave the EU this Government have overseen record jobs, with quarter 4 figures for 2017 showing improved productivity? Does he agree that Britain’s best years lie ahead?

The negotiations that this country faces are complex, but I will take an optimistic approach to all the discussions that I undertake at the Treasury and elsewhere going forward.