Skip to main content

Leaving the EU: Departmental Preparedness

Volume 670: debated on Wednesday 22 January 2020

6. What steps he is taking to ensure the preparedness of Government Departments for the UK leaving the EU on 31 January 2020. (900328)

I welcome you to the Chair, Mr Speaker.

In 10 days the United Kingdom will once more be an independent nation and ready to assert our international role with renewed confidence. Departments across Government are undertaking all the necessary work to embrace these new opportunities, and we will continue to do so during the implementation period, which ends on 31 December.

One of the most important things we can do as we approach independence day is to have a highly skilled workforce. Will my right hon. Friend ensure that, when businesses and organisations bid for Government contracts, apprentices make up a high proportion of their workforce?

My right hon. Friend is right that one of the many benefits of leaving the EU is the chance to overhaul Government procurement to make it more efficient, more responsive and more flexible, and to ensure that British talent takes its place at the forefront of wealth creation, and at the heart of that must be more young British apprentices. This will develop the skills we need to succeed in the 21st century.

14. Those fine words will mean nothing if the contracts do not go to British companies, so will the Government take the opportunity at last to give priority to British firms and get local authorities and other public bodies to do the same? Let’s give business to British firms employing British workers. (900337)

I am very grateful to the right hon. Gentleman for making the case that was made so eloquently by Vote Leave in 2016. There is more joy in heaven over one Member for Warley who repenteth than over many others who still take a different view. He is absolutely right; one of the many benefits of Brexit is that we can buy British and put British firms, British workers and the whole United Kingdom first.