There have been 3 exchanges between Lord Frost and Baroness Smith of Basildon
|1||Thu 25th March 2021||
Post Brexit: Economic and Political Opportunities
|3 interactions (289 words)|
|2||Thu 18th March 2021||
|3 interactions (339 words)|
|3||Wed 10th March 2021||
Northern Ireland Protocol: Grace Period
|3 interactions (338 words)|
My Lords, like the noble Lord, Lord Hamilton, I want to return to an issue we touched on last week when the Minister appeared to dismiss concerns about the January fall in exports, saying:
“A unique combination of facts has made it inevitable”.—[Official Report, 18/3/21; col. 445.]
The Food and Drink Federation does not share his complacency, having seen its members’ exports to the EU collapse by 75% in the past year but by only 11% to the rest of the world. It is clear that the Brexit negotiations, which the Minister was part of, had a hugely significant impact, particularly on small businesses, so I have two questions for him. First, if the fall really was inevitable, why did he not tell businesses beforehand? Secondly, will he urgently convene a meeting, not- withstanding his earlier comments, of the partnership council and the special trade committees to try to save British exports?
My Lords, I thank the Minister for agreeing to meet the noble Lord, Lord Adonis, on the issues he raised, but in response to my noble friend Lord McNicol, he seemed reluctant to admit that there was a problem and he certainly did not answer the part of the question about what the solutions were, so I shall try again. Your Lordships’ House has been fully engaged in preparing the UK for its new relationship with the EU. There has been an unprecedented number of documents, Bills and statutory instruments that we have all waded our way through to get to the detail, but all behind ensuring support for the Government’s border plans. Yet here we are, less than three months in, and that model is creaking. The Minister is now tearing up plan A in order to push back implementation dates. Can he tell us what he thinks has gone wrong?
My Lords, I think we all welcome that the noble Lord, Lord Frost, is now able to answer Questions from the Dispatch Box and we look forward to an ongoing dialogue with him about his Cabinet responsibilities. His role in the negotiations has been credited with getting the agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol over the line. He would have been aware then of all the implications. Given that he supported the creation of, and now co-chairs, the Joint Committees he has referred to, which are designed to resolve such disputes, would not the most mature and pragmatic way to deal with this issue be to continue with that process? Does he understand that the unilateral action he is championing is a double threat? It jeopardises the European Parliament’s ratification of his own agreement and damages our international reputation if we cannot be trusted to keep our word.