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Withdrawal Agreement

Volume 664: debated on Wednesday 4 September 2019

2. What recent economic assessment he has made of the potential effect on Wales of the implementation of the withdrawal agreement. (912225)

10. What recent economic assessment he has made of the potential effect on Wales of the implementation of the withdrawal agreement. (912233)

The best outcome for Wales and the Welsh economy is that the UK leaves the European Union in an orderly manner with a deal. We will continue to work with energy and determination to make sure that that happens. However, the UK will be leaving the European Union on 31 October.

Given that 90% of Welsh lamb is exported to other countries in the European Union, does the Secretary of State still believe that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, a viable alternative market will be Japan?

The hon. Gentleman makes a good point. I met the Farmers Union of Wales yesterday, and I will be meeting NFU Cymru quite soon. The Japanese market is a new market that opened in January. It is wholly separate from the free trade agreement that the European Union has with Japan, so there has been lots of misreporting that the hon. Gentleman fails to recognise and understand. However, his constituency voted to leave the European Union—why is he trying to stop the process?

Will the Secretary of State confirm what conversations his Government colleagues have had with the manufacturing industry concerning a hard Brexit?

I am grateful to the hon. Gentleman, because manufacturing is an extremely important part of the Welsh economy. Wales has the fastest growth in the manufacturing sector across the whole of the UK economy. The Welsh manufacturing sector is in good strength, and I look forward to the new opportunities after we have left the European Union.

This House has rejected the withdrawal agreement on three occasions, and it is therefore a dead letter. Given that the people of Wales voted to leave the European Union, does my right hon. Friend agree that we have a positive obligation to deliver Brexit and that that is less likely to be achieved if this House decides to pass the Bill that it will be considering later today?

My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. I pay tribute to him for his work in this area. The Welsh and the British public want Members in this place to act on the result of the referendum, to draw a line and move on, and to focus on growing and supporting the Welsh and the UK economies for the opportunities after we have left the European Union.

Does my right hon. Friend agree that the 594 pieces of legislation that this Parliament has passed in the event of a no-deal Brexit and the corresponding pieces of legislation passed in Brussels mean that the future for Wales, whether it be deal or no deal, is bright?

My hon. Friend is absolutely right. The UK Government are making comprehensive preparations, in the event of a deal or in the event of no deal, to best position the UK and the Welsh economy to take the new opportunities as we leave the European Union. I am determined to work with colleagues right across Whitehall to ensure that Wales is at the forefront of their thinking.

Last night, 85% of Welsh MPs voted against no deal, including some very honourable Members who braved their own Whip. No deal has no mandate from the people and no mandate from Parliament. Is the Secretary of State proud of being complicit in his Administration’s attempt at pushing through an anti-democratic, damaging version of Brexit by silencing Welsh MPs who are representing our nation’s best interests?

The right hon. Lady’s party jointly published a document, “Securing Wales’ Future”, with the Welsh Government, which said that they would honour the outcome of the referendum. The reality is that the right hon. Lady and her party are frustrating the process. People in Wales want to draw a line and move on.

Evidently the Prime Minister has a kennel of little pet dogs. As this place descends into further chaos, when the Senedd is recalled early tomorrow, Plaid Cymru will be calling for a Welsh national constitutional convention, to look at the options for Wales’s constitutional future. Can the Secretary of State confirm whether his party will get behind this national conversation, or will his seniors—the Minister for the Union and his advisers—stifle every attempt at our nation’s democracy?

The right hon. Lady claims to be the leader in Westminster of the party of Wales, but she fails to remember and to act on the instruction that came from the people of Wales to leave the European Union. She is seeking to frustrate the process. She is causing uncertainty to the Welsh economy, which is undermining business confidence.

I have listened intently to the Secretary of State’s answers, and I am struggling, because he appears to be totally out of touch with what is going on in this place and in Wales. Does he now believe that the backstop is anti-democratic and risks undermining the Good Friday agreement, as his current boss claims?

The hon. Lady did not support the withdrawal agreement—she voted against it—which has contributed to the current circumstances. Does she genuinely recognise and want to act on the instruction that came from the Welsh people, which is to leave the European Union? We need to draw a line.

That is another non-answer from the Secretary of State, among many. I thought the system here was that I ask the questions and he answers them, unless I have got it wrong or he wants to swap positions. I will ask him again: why did he vote for the backstop three times under his previous boss? Was that to curry favour and keep his job then, or is he trying to keep his job now, or both?

I am seeking to act on the democratic will of the Welsh and British people, and I am also seeking to respond to the demands that have been made in Parliament. The withdrawal agreement has been killed three times. We are working energetically and enthusiastically with our European allies in order to come back to this House with a deal, so that we can move on and focus on growing the economy and delivering on public services.