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Phase 2 Negotiations

Volume 635: debated on Thursday 1 February 2018

9. Whether the Government plan to accept the EU’s guidelines for phase 2 of the negotiations for the UK leaving the EU. (903673)

It is not for the UK to accept or reject the European Union’s directives. This is its mandate for negotiations, and we have our own set of objectives. In my speech last Friday, I set out our position on what we would like to see in the implementation period, and we look forward to continuing the discussion with our European Union counterparts. Let me be clear: that work has not stopped. Following the declaration of insufficient progress in December, officials have continued technical discussions on separation issues, Northern Ireland and governance arrangements. I will shortly meet Mr Barnier to continue to the process.

For workers who arrive during the transition period under existing freedom of movement rules, what arrangements will the Government make to ensure that workers who are crucial to industries in Scotland, such as fisheries, social care and hospitality, and who do not meet tier 2 visa requirements, are not simply sent home at the end of the transition period?

We will be discussing in some detail with the European Union the treatment of people after our actual departure from the Union. The hon. Gentleman must take it as read, as I have said several times, that they will be treated properly, that we will not do anything to undermine our economy, and that we will do everything possible to ensure that the industries he talked about are supported.

The Secretary of State and his junior Ministers keep saying that they want a bespoke deal. When are they going to set out what that actually means? When are they going to tell us what the elements of that bespoke deal will be, and when will they cost the bespoke deal’s implications for the economies of these islands? When?

There can be few policies that have been talked about more by Prime Ministers than this one. There have been two major speeches—Lancaster House and Florence—and two White Papers, and something like 15 Bills will be going through this House over the course of the Parliament, so the House will not be unaware of all aspects of the bespoke deal. We have also made very plain what we see as different in what we are seeking from other deals. For example, we are aiming for the free trade agreement to be comprehensive and tariff-free. On the customs agreement, we are aiming for the most frictionless one possible—we have a variety of proposals that we talked about in front of the Select Committee on that—and the House will be kept fully informed. On the costing, as we have said, I think on Monday, we will of course release all the information necessary once it is no longer sensitive to the negotiations, but before the House makes a decision.