As I said in my speech in Teesport, an implementation period will benefit both the European Union and the United Kingdom. It is in no one’s interest on either side for businesses to rush through contingency plans based on guesses about a future deal. That would cause delayed investment, a slowing of job creation and a stifling of the hard-won economic growth on which our continent depends.
Businesses have been clear about the importance of an implementation period, which will give them time to build new infrastructure and set up new systems to support our future partnership and allow for as free and frictionless trade as possible. The implementation period will allow them to make their decisions on the basis of knowledge about what the future deal will look like. It will ensure that our businesses are ready, because they will have to adjust to only one set of changes, and, importantly, it will allow European Governments to do the same.
I thank my right hon. Friend for that answer and for his visit to Teesport earlier this year, which was much appreciated. Two thirds of people in my constituency voted for Brexit. Can my right hon. Friend reassure them that any implementation period will indeed be time-limited and handled in a way that will provide for a smooth exit for business?
Yes. A time-limited implementation period will ensure a smooth and orderly exit from the European Union. During the period, the United Kingdom and the European Union will continue to have access to each other’s markets on current terms by replicating the effects of the customs union and the single market, and businesses will be able to continue to operate on the same terms as now. That will provide vital certainty and stability as we move towards our future partnership.
Let us be clear: we are leaving the European Union on 29 March 2019, and only when the United Kingdom is no longer a member state will we be able to take advantage of our status as an independent trading nation.