In Florence five months ago, the Prime Minister set out a proposal for the implementation period under current terms, utilising the existing structure of European Union rules and regulations, including the European Court, for that time-limited period. That is necessary so that there is only one set of changes for businesses and people and minimum disruption. We are also clear that our priority will be getting the right arrangements for Britain’s relationship with the EU in the long term, out of the single market, out of the customs union and without direct jurisdiction of the European Court.
So the European Court will be deciding on issues in this country, and if British businesses want to continue doing trade with the rest of Europe, they will have to abide by all the rules of the single market, and British citizens will have fewer rights in the rest of Europe than they have now. In essence, the Government are turning us from being a proud partner with European colleagues into a vassal state. Will the Secretary of State propose that we hand them over some Danegeld as well?
I think that is the first time I have seen the hon. Gentleman in alliance with my hon. Friend the Member for the 19th century.
As my right hon. Friend well knows, we are going into negotiation on this matter almost as we speak. During that period, my primary concern is any new laws coming into effect over which we have had no say, and we will aim to set up arrangements to ensure that they do not harm the United Kingdom.
After the Prime Minister’s Florence speech, the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the hon. Member for Fareham (Suella Fernandes), who I welcome to the Front Bench, co-ordinated a letter from the European Research Group describing the Government’s policy on the transitional period as staying in the EU “by stealth”. She has not yet replied to my letter of 14 January, offering her the opportunity to retract that view. Does the Secretary of State agree that it is these divisions at the heart of the Government that jeopardise our negotiations? Will he confirm that all his Ministers support Government policy on the transition?
It is almost sine qua non that all my Ministers support Government policy, which is more than I can say for Opposition Front Benchers.