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European Union: Future Relationship

Volume 672: debated on Thursday 27 February 2020

Now that we have honoured the wishes of the British people and got Brexit done, we will publish later today detailed aspects of our future relationship with the European Union, and I shall be making a statement after these questions. Formal negotiations will begin next week.

When it comes to the negotiations that will begin next week, no one knows what the Government’s bottom line is, and we will not find out until later this year, but will the Minister explain to the House today why on earth the Government believe that the reputational damage that will be inflicted, not just in EU capitals but around the world, by our casual reneging on a number of commitments set out in the political declaration, which was signed in good faith with the EU after the recent general election, is a price worth paying?

I have great respect for the hon. Gentleman, but I am afraid that his question is wholly misconceived. We have absolutely no intention of doing anything other than honouring the withdrawal agreement, honouring the protocol that we have signed, and making sure that we achieve the political declaration’s aim of ensuring that we have a comprehensive free trade agreement with no tariffs, no quotas and no quantitative restrictions.

Does my right hon. Friend think the EU has spotted that we have actually left and no longer need to negotiate our terms of release?

My right hon. Friend has made a very good point. There are a range of views—a spectrum of opinions—in European capitals, but I think that the pennies, the pfennigs and the centimes are dropping as a result of the Prime Minister’s speeches and the lecture given recently by the Prime Minister’s sherpa David Frost.