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EU Withdrawal: Opportunities for UK Businesses

Volume 701: debated on Thursday 23 September 2021

11. What recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on opportunities for UK businesses. (903614)

16. What recent assessment his Department has made of the effect of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU on opportunities for UK businesses. (903621)

Our exit from the European Union has given us the freedom to conceive and implement rules that put UK businesses first. Only last week, the Government announced further reforms to reduce burdens on businesses, which I am sure the hon. Member for North Ayrshire and Arran (Patricia Gibson) and her party will welcome, to help unleash innovation and propel economic growth across the whole United Kingdom. The Government’s action to seize the opportunities of Brexit is already having an impact, as she well knows. The International Monetary Fund is expecting the United Kingdom to see the fastest GDP growth in the G7 this year—something about which the entire House can be proud.

Back here on planet Earth, rather than a sea of opportunity we are drowning in Brexit despair, as the Scottish food and drink sector is sacrificed on the altar of this hard Tory Brexit, at a cost of £2 billion on pre-pandemic levels, with extensive trade barriers, extra red tape, labour shortages and damage to Brand Scotland. Industry figures are warning that they will not come close to making up the EU market losses. How do the UK Government plan to mitigate the damage that they have caused to Scotland’s economy?

Our exit from the European Union provides us with positives, although I know that the hon. Lady and her party wish to focus on negatives. The relentless negativity of the Scottish nationalists really is a wonder to behold. The fact of the matter is that the opportunity to think boldly about how we regulate gives us the freedom to conceive and implement rules that will put the United Kingdom—all constituent parts of the United Kingdom, including Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and England—first.

A major export business in my constituency is in the process of relocating to an EU member state, taking with it scores of highly skilled jobs. As a result of Brexit, it has faced massive delays for shipments and EU member states preventing their public authorities from procuring from it. The rest of its export market has been killed off because of shocking delays by the UK’s Export Control Joint Unit. Despite numerous correspondences and meetings with Ministers, I have not been able to get those delays reduced. Minister, here is the evidence from my constituency of Edinburgh South West, in Scotland. The UK Government are strangling thriving businesses in Scotland. What should I tell my constituents?

What the hon. and learned Lady ought to tell her constituents is that we have, thanks to global Britain, established a new points-based immigration system on migration, and we are replacing the common agricultural policy. She can tell them that we are taking back control of our territorial waters. She can tell them that we have been striking bilateral trade agreements with 60 countries so far, with more on the way. She can tell them all those things and they will then no doubt be voting Conservative.

I apologise that this is a rather detailed question, but a few businesses in my constituency are having issues with specifics on rules of origin. Will my right hon. and learned Friend update the House as to the willingness of the EU to sit down and iron out these anomalies?

The trade and co-operation agreement provides for zero tariffs and zero-quota trade with the EU while also allowing us to regulate in a way that suits the UK economy and our businesses without being bound by EU rules. The trade and co-operation agreement includes appropriate rules of origin, as my hon. Friend mentions, to support tariff-free trade across all sectors.