Kwasi Kwarteng debates with Department for Exiting the European Union

There have been 16 exchanges between Kwasi Kwarteng and Department for Exiting the European Union

Thu 27th June 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 35 interactions (748 words)
Wed 12th June 2019 Leaving the EU: Business of the House 3 interactions (2 words)
Thu 16th May 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 35 interactions (1,005 words)
Thu 4th April 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 49 interactions (1,213 words)
Mon 25th March 2019 European Union (Withdrawal) Act 3 interactions (2 words)
Fri 22nd March 2019 European Council: Article 50 Extension (Urgent Question) 89 interactions (2,477 words)
Wed 20th March 2019 EU Withdrawal Joint Committee: Oversight (Urgent Question) 58 interactions (2,228 words)
Mon 18th March 2019 Article 50 Extension Procedure (Urgent Question) 102 interactions (3,901 words)
Thu 28th February 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 38 interactions (964 words)
Thu 21st February 2019 Northern Ireland Backstop: Conditional Interpretative Declaration 12 interactions (1,366 words)
Thu 14th February 2019 UK’s Withdrawal from the EU 3 interactions (3 words)
Thu 24th January 2019 Oral Answers to Questions 56 interactions (1,431 words)
Mon 14th January 2019 Leaving the EU (Westminster Hall) 14 interactions (2,302 words)
Thu 6th December 2018 Oral Answers to Questions 31 interactions (925 words)
Mon 3rd December 2018 EU Membership: Second Referendum (Westminster Hall) 13 interactions (2,413 words)
Thu 14th December 2017 Oral Answers to Questions 9 interactions (68 words)

Oral Answers to Questions

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Thursday 27th June 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Scott Mann Portrait Scott Mann (North Cornwall) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

2. What recent discussions the Government have had with EU representatives on maintaining security co-operation after the UK leaves the EU. [911592]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I assure the House that we continue regularly to meet our counterparts from across the EU and its member states on a number of issues, including our security relationship after the UK leaves the EU. The political declaration sets out a shared UK-EU commitment to a comprehensive future security partnership. That partnership will include close co-operation on law enforcement, criminal justice, foreign policy, defence and cyber-security.

Scott Mann Portrait Scott Mann
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

Given that we do not know what our future relationship will look like at this moment in time, can I seek assurances from the Department that, in the event of a clean break from the European Union, we will be seeking mutual co-operation on matters such as security?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 9:43 a.m.

I assure my hon. Friend that that is absolutely the case. We have a long history of co-operating with our partners in Europe and are working closely with many of our EU partners on Europe’s key defence challenges through capabilities such as Typhoon, A400M and Meteor.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 9:43 a.m.

According to Mr Barnier, a no-deal scenario would represent

“a break in the level of talks…risks to intelligence pooling… inconsistencies in applying sanctions regimes”,

and would leave the rules of co-operation with Europol and Eurojust still to be determined. Given the risks that no deal would present to our security, is the Minister happy that both of the Tory leadership contenders crow about their willingness to deliver no deal?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Of course, I have always championed the deal and the right hon. Gentleman has voted against the deal three times. In the case of no deal, we will absolutely co-operate with our EU partners, including through making use of Interpol and the Council of Europe conventions. For example, on extradition, we would rely on the Council of Europe’s 1957 European convention on extradition. There is huge scope for co-operation, even in the event of no deal.

Gregory Campbell Portrait Mr Gregory Campbell (East Londonderry) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 9:44 a.m.

Does the Minister agree that we must increase our level of security on the border between Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic, given the threat that dissident republicans pose? In the knowledge that we are now moving to a position where hopefully we will leave in a few short months, we need to be exceptionally mindful of that security risk to all our citizens.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 9:45 a.m.

We are absolutely mindful of the risk that the hon. Gentleman describes. He knows that the Government are fully committed to ensuring that the dark days of the 1970s do not return to Northern Ireland.

Paul Blomfield Portrait Paul Blomfield (Sheffield Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 9:49 a.m.

I see that yesterday the Minister tried to mitigate fears about a no-deal departure by saying that it

“is not a world war.”

That might be an insight into his thinking, but is “less damaging than a world war” really a benchmark for success? Does he agree with the Security Minister, the right hon. Member for Wyre and Preston North (Mr Wallace), who said:

“A no-deal situation would have a real impact on our ability to work with our European partners to protect the public”?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I appreciate the hon. Gentleman’s questions, as always, but I would like to point out that he has wrenched my comments completely out of context, and they were made not yesterday but on Monday. I was merely echoing what the former Governor of the Bank of England, the highly respected economist, Mervyn King, has said about our GDP growth since 1800. On an annualised basis, there would be very little impact, even in the case of no deal.

Liz Twist Portrait Liz Twist (Blaydon) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social and Care on the effect on the NHS of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. [911593]

Break in Debate

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

9. What discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs on the effect on UK farmers and agriculture of the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. [911600]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 10:06 a.m.

We continue to have regular conversations with ministerial colleagues across the Government on all aspects of exiting the EU. To provide certainty to farmers and landowners, the Government pledged to commit the same cash total in funds for farm support until the end of this Parliament. That commitment applies to the whole of the UK in both a deal and no-deal scenario.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:06 a.m.

After studying the Government’s no deal notices, the National Farmers Union has said that a no-deal Brexit would be “catastrophic” for British agriculture. Why then does the Secretary of State talk up a no deal as a viable option and back a leadership candidate who supports leaving on 31 October, “do or die”?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We have had a deal, which the hon. Gentleman and his hon. Friends and colleagues rejected three times. It makes absolutely no sense for them to complain about the prospect of no deal when they rejected a deal so comprehensively on three occasions.

Hywel Williams Portrait Hywel Williams (Arfon) (PC)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

What progress has been made in setting up the successor scheme to the EU’s geographical indications system, which has proved so commercially lucrative for food and drink manufacturers, including people who produce Welsh beef and Welsh lamb?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 10:09 a.m.

We have made a lot of progress on trying to replace a lot of the EU’s funds and the regional way in which they allocate money. We have the UK shared prosperity fund, details of which will be introduced next year.

Kerry McCarthy Portrait Kerry McCarthy (Bristol East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:09 a.m.

In the recent Tory leadership debate, the Foreign Secretary challenged his rival over no deal, saying:

“Let me ask Boris a question: what would you say to a sheep farmer in Shropshire that I met whose business would be destroyed by 40% tariffs?”

What would the Minister say to that sheep farmer?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

We have already made a commitment in this House to support our agricultural industries and our farmers under any circumstances, whether that is a deal or no deal. We have an Agriculture Bill that will allow the Secretary of State to provide the support that our people need.

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

11. What recent assessment he has made of the adequacy of the security of supply for pharmaceutical products in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. [911603]

Break in Debate

Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

19. What discussions his Department has had with the British Ceramics Confederation on the UK’s participation in the customs union after the UK leaves the EU. [911612]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 10:15 a.m.

Ministers continue to carry out extensive engagement on EU exit across all sectors of the economy, including with the British Ceramics Confederation, in meetings that in many cases have been organised by third parties. I have personally engaged with business and civil society organisations at national and regional level, and we have met representatives of the security, voluntary and engineering sectors, among others.

Gareth Snell
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:15 a.m.

I thank the Minister for that answer. The British Ceramics Confederation has been clear that what it wants to see is a deal for certainty for the ceramics sector, but as part of that it also wants to see the UK’s participation in a customs union. The benefits of a customs union work for EU-UK trade, but without that common external tariff and the continuation of trade deals with countries such as South Korea, which is now the biggest emerging market for the ceramics sector, our industry will suffer significantly. Will Ministers meet me and a delegation of ceramics providers so that we can look at ways of mitigating those problems if necessary, and ultimately changing Government policy for the better?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 10:16 a.m.

I am pleased to note that the hon. Gentleman has belatedly come around to the merits of a deal. I hope that we can get a deal and leave in an orderly way. I am always happy to meet him and other representatives of the ceramics industry to discuss the interests of his constituency.

Patricia Gibson Portrait Patricia Gibson (North Ayrshire and Arran) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20. What recent discussions he has had with Cabinet colleagues on the economic effect on Scotland of the UK leaving the EU. [911613]

Break in Debate

Mark Menzies Portrait Mark Menzies (Fylde) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T6. What preparations is the Minister making to ensure that aerospace manufacturing companies are given full support from the Government in the event of a no-deal Brexit? [911623]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

I congratulate my hon. Friend on his record of championing the aerospace industry in his constituency; he is a fine advocate of its interests. Working together through the partnership, industry and Government have made a joint funding commitment of £3.9 billion to aerospace research from 2013 to 2026, as he will be aware. Ministers and other officials across Government remain in close contact with the aerospace sector, and we have met more than 100 companies in the supply chain across the UK to discuss the implications of exiting the EU.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:27 a.m.

The Secretary of State referred earlier to the number of statutory instruments that have been laid to date; can he tell the House how many SIs remain to be enacted in order for us to exit the EU in an orderly fashion on 31 October?

Break in Debate

Hilary Benn Portrait Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:30 a.m.

In the answer that the Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, the hon. Member for Spelthorne (Kwasi Kwarteng) gave to my hon. Friend the Member for Bristol East (Kerry McCarthy) a moment ago about the devastating impact of tariffs on sheep farmers in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he appeared to give the impression that the Government would compensate farmers for the cost of those tariffs. Can he please clarify this for the House: is it the Government’s policy, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, to pick up the cost of the tariffs that farmers would face—yes or no?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

27 Jun 2019, 10:30 a.m.

What I endeavoured to suggest was that the Government would continue to support those industries. We cannot guarantee a specific payment, as the right hon. Gentleman suggests, but there is a broad commitment to support those industries, as we have done for more than 80 years.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

27 Jun 2019, 10:30 a.m.

Data flows are absolutely vital for business, for health and for security, and in many other areas, but the problems would be immense in the case of a no-deal Brexit. We heard yesterday in the Exiting the European Union Committee that, even in the case of leaving with a deal, the UK would no longer have any influence over the general data protection regulation, even though the GDPR is becoming a standard right around the world, well outside the European Union. Is this a case of giving up control or taking back control?

Leaving the EU: Business of the House

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Wednesday 12th June 2019

(1 year, 5 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

12 Jun 2019, 3 p.m.

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. I have been in this House a hell of a long time, as most people know.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

They always say that, don’t they? The fact is that I have no idea what the Secretary of State is talking about when he mentions a “blind motion”. Could you tell us what he is talking about, Mr Speaker?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Thursday 16th May 2019

(1 year, 6 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Ian Murray Portrait Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

3. What recent assessment the Government have made of the effect on the UK economy of the UK leaving the EU. [910918]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:47 a.m.

In November 2018, the Government published their economic analysis of leaving the European Union. In doing so, the Government delivered on their commitment to provide appropriate analysis to Parliament. The publication provides an assessment of how different exit scenarios may affect the sectors, nations and regions of the UK economy in the long run.

Ian Murray Portrait Ian Murray
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:47 a.m.

If the rumours are true, the withdrawal agreement Bill will come back to the House shortly. There is no credible analysis, including from the Government, that shows that any form of Brexit will be beneficial to the UK economy, so will the Bill include a detailed economic and environmental impact assessment of its impact on every single sector, region and nation of this country?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:48 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman has been in the House long enough to know that I cannot possibly reveal details of the Bill ahead of its introduction. What I can say generally is that the UK economy is performing strongly—much more strongly than many of his doom-mongers and naysayers have suggested. Employment levels have broken all records, and there are 3.6 million more people in work than there were in 2010. Business investment in the UK stood at almost £47 billion in the first quarter of this year—that is an increase of 30% since we took office in 2010. Generally, the UK is the top destination for inward investment in Europe. Amid uncertainty, the economy is performing well.

Julia Lopez Portrait Julia Lopez (Hornchurch and Upminster) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:49 a.m.

Financial services are a critical part of the UK’s economy and one of our top exports. Will my hon. Friend confirm that the withdrawal agreement does not include a specific section on financial services and that access to the EU market after any transition would be a matter of separate negotiation? Will he update the House on his most recent discussions on the issue with his EU counterparts?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The withdrawal agreement is not the end state of the relationship between the UK and the EU; it is merely a mechanism to get to that end state. In a free trade agreement, which I hope we get, our financial services will absolutely be able to have more freedom. They have a brighter future outside the EU than within it.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:30 a.m.

I refer the House to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests. The creative industries tell me that their economy is already suffering, with the concerns of musicians in particular, for example, not being addressed in any part of the Government’s negotiations or deal. They will have to move kit and people around the European Union, and they are already losing out on bookings. What discussions is the Minister having with representatives of, for instance, the Musicians’ Union about this problem?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:50 a.m.

I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave just a minute ago. The withdrawal agreement itself does not describe the end state of our relationship between the UK and the EU. It is simply a means to the end. We are discussing all the time with representatives of the creative industries, and we hope that, once the agreement is passed, we can then go on to the second phase of the discussions.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:50 a.m.

The European Union is mired in low economic growth. Many of its countries have eye-watering levels of youth unemployment and its currency has to be constantly supported by quantitative easing. Can my hon. Friend understand why anybody would want to chain us to this rotten corpse?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:51 a.m.

I fully appreciate the force of my hon. Friend’s argument. The idea that the EU simply represented the be all and end all of economic prosperity has been completely exploded by his remarks. If those record high levels of youth unemployment occurred in the constituencies of any Labour Member, they would be rightly outraged. We have great opportunities outside the EU, which is why I hope that we can pass the Bill and move forward in these discussions.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:51 a.m.

The car industry, British steel, and the travel industry are all citing Brexit as a major cause of concern in their sectors. Does the Minister consider that to be project fear or project reality?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:51 a.m.

I urge the right hon. Gentleman to end the uncertainty and back the Bill so that we can move on with this debate and get to the next phase of the negotiations. That would provide the certainty that the industries that he cites are looking for.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:52 a.m.

The Minister reminded us that the Government have done an economic analysis of a number of Brexit scenarios, but, very pointedly, they have not given us an analysis of the impact of the scenario that they are going to ask us to vote on in a few weeks’ time. Every analysis they have done of every Brexit scenario has shown that the economic damage to Scotland caused by Brexit is always made even worse if we also lose our rights under free movement of people. How does the Minister justify imposing this additional economic damage on a country that rejected Brexit by 62% in 2016?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 9:52 a.m.

I fully appreciate the concern of the Members from the Scottish National party. They campaigned for two referendums. They got beaten in both of them and now they simply want to re-run them. The fact is that the United Kingdom voted to leave and this Government—and Ministers—are pledged to deliver on that referendum result.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 9:53 a.m.

I want the result of the referendum to be respected. I want the 62% of sovereign citizens in my nation to have their declared will respected. Does the Minister not realise that, every time he or his colleagues say that Scotland has to put up with this because Scotland is part of the Union, they are driving another nail into the coffin of that Union? Does he not appreciate that his comments today will simply persuade more and more Scots that, next week, the way to protect Scotland’s interests is by returning an increased number of SNP candidates to the European Parliament and by making sure that, in 2024, Scotland participates in those European elections as a full sovereign member of a partnership of equals?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

My right hon. Friend the Secretary of State was in Scotland last week, and the opinion there is very divided on this issue, as it is in the rest of the United Kingdom. The hon. Gentleman will appreciate, as a democrat, that the vote in 2016 was a national vote—a United Kingdom vote—and we are pledged to respect the majority result, which was to leave the European Union.

Gill Furniss Portrait Gill Furniss (Sheffield, Brightside and Hillsborough) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4. What recent assessment the Government has made of the economic effect of the UK leaving the EU customs union. [910919]

Break in Debate

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

9. Whether the Government have made a recent assessment of the adequacy of the security commitments provided for in the political declaration. [910925]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 10:03 a.m.

In November 2018, the Government published an assessment of the future security partnership as set out in the political declaration. The political declaration itself recognises the shared threats faced by the UK and the European Union and provides a framework to safeguard our security. That framework, as the hon. Lady will know, covers law enforcement, judicial co-operation in criminal matters, foreign policy, and security and defence co-operation in areas where we hope to have mutual co-operation.

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 10:03 a.m.

Protecting our national security from organised crime and terrorism is of course the first duty of any Government. My constituents want to know that we will still be able to participate in the European arrest warrant and share criminal record checks if or when we leave the EU, so what further progress has been made on what was put into the political declaration so many months ago?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The hon. Lady will appreciate that those matters are for the second phase of the discussions between us and the EU. In order to get to that second stage, I sincerely recommend that she supports the withdrawal agreement. That is the only mechanism by which we will get to phase 2 of the negotiations, where we can discuss some of these matters, which are critically important to her constituents and to the country.

Janet Daby Portrait Janet Daby (Lewisham East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

10. What recent discussions he has had with the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care on the effect on the NHS of the UK leaving the EU. [910929]

Break in Debate

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

13. What steps the Government are taking to support towns after the UK leaves the EU. [910932]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 10:12 a.m.

The Department continues to work closely with colleagues in the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to ensure that towns and communities across England are supported post Brexit. In March the Government announced a new £1.6 billion Stronger Towns fund for England, which will boost growth and give communities a stronger say in their future after Brexit.

Mary Robinson Portrait Mary Robinson (Cheadle) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 10:13 a.m.

Earlier this year the Government announced that £55.6 million will be made available to local government to cover the additional expenditure resulting from Brexit, and it is important that councils such as Stockport are prepared from day one after we leave the EU, so that my constituents can have uninterrupted local services. How will my hon. Friend ensure that, as local authorities make their bids for the Stronger Towns fund, towns and villages such as Cheadle are able to feel the benefit?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 10:14 a.m.

I congratulate my hon. Friend on her tireless work representing and championing her constituents in the north-west. More than half the allocated Stronger Towns fund will go to towns across the north of England, and just over £281 million will be allocated to the north-west region. There will be further opportunity to deliver locally led projects, create new jobs, and support the Government’s commitment to building a more prosperous economy across the United Kingdom.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

One of the ways that the Government could start moving on regeneration, not just in England but across Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, is to set out when the consultation on the shared prosperity fund will start. It was meant to start before December 2018, but Ministers from the Treasury, the Wales Office, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy do not know when it will be. Perhaps Ministers from the Department for Exiting the European Union can give us some answers for a change.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 10:15 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will have observed that we have not yet reached a deal on the withdrawal agreement. The shared prosperity fund is the pot of money that will be allocated across the UK once we have left the EU. The withdrawal agreement still has to go through. We recognise the importance of reassuring local areas at that point that the shared prosperity fund will be distributed, but it does not make any sense to do that ahead of the ratification of the deal.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What assessment the Government have made of the potential effect on voter confidence in (a) politicians and (b) democracy of revoking Article 50. [910933]

Break in Debate

Alex Cunningham Portrait Alex Cunningham (Stockton North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. It is three years since the EU referendum and the chemical industry on Teesside and beyond is still nervous about the future. That is having a major impact on jobs and investment. Time and again I have raised this issue with Ministers and time and again they have failed to provide the assurances needed; what has the Brexit Secretary got to say now? [910943]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

16 May 2019, 10:33 a.m.

I am very pleased that the hon. Gentleman has raised that question. I have not visited his constituency exactly, but I have been to Teesport and seen many representatives of the chemicals industry, and the one thing they are very anxious to do is create some certainty: they want this phase of the Brexit process to be completed and feel we should back the deal and back the withdrawal agreement. They have, unlike many Opposition Members, accepted the result of the referendum and want to move forward with this process.

Jeremy Lefroy (Stafford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

16 May 2019, 10:33 a.m.

What preparations have the Government made to establish a UK investment bank to take over the responsibilities and functions of the European Investment Bank and indeed to do more for investment in the infrastructure and businesses of the UK?

Oral Answers to Questions

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Thursday 4th April 2019

(1 year, 7 months ago)

Commons Chamber

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Department for Exiting the European Union
Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day (Linlithgow and East Falkirk) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

17. What recent steps he has taken to prevent the UK from leaving the EU without a deal. [910227]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:53 a.m.

On Tuesday, my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister set out a process through which we will seek to agree a plan to leave the EU with a deal. She has asked for a short extension in order to do that. The best way to avoid no deal, as the House well knows, is obviously to agree a deal. While no deal remains the legal default, the Government must go on preparing for this scenario as a contingency.

Marion Fellows Portrait Marion Fellows
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

All of the leave campaigns promised that we should leave with a deal. Last week, no deal was rejected by over 71% of MPs, and the Prime Minister’s deal has also been overwhelmingly rejected. Will the Government finally admit that there are alternatives to leaving without a deal that can gain more support from Parliament than the Prime Minister’s deal?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:54 a.m.

The hon. Lady is absolutely right. If she has followed events this week, she will know that that is exactly why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has extended the negotiations to and engaged in conversation with the Leader of the Opposition. It is precisely to find a solution to the impasse.

Martyn Day Portrait Martyn Day
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 9:54 a.m.

No deal did not appear on any ballot paper in 2016 and was ruled out by all the main leave campaign groups. Does the Minister therefore agree that it would be totally unacceptable to crash out without a deal, without first putting it back to the people?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:55 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman is quite right: the House has shown no inclination to leave the EU without a deal. That is why my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister is looking for a way forward and engaging with the Leader of the Opposition on precisely that issue.

Jenny Chapman (Darlington) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 9:55 a.m.

Leaving without a deal would affect everybody, not least our dentists. I hope you will find it in order, Mr Speaker, for me to raise the issue of dentistry in a no-deal situation at this point. A third of the 6,500 European qualified dental registrants intend to leave UK dentistry. The British Dental Association chair, Mick Armstrong, has said:

“Government has failed to even acknowledge the scale of the crisis”.

I know that Ministers have recruitment and retention issues of their own at the moment, but is not the chair of the British Dental Association right, and what are the Government going to do about it?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:55 a.m.

I would like to pay tribute to my former colleague, my hon. Friend the Member for Daventry (Chris Heaton-Harris). He was a wonderful Minister and it is a shame that he has left us.

On the issue of professional qualifications, it is in the withdrawal agreement and it has always been the stated aim of the Government that there will be mutual recognition of qualifications. This is not controversial, and I think that it will assure many EU citizens in our country that they can continue to pursue their professions without any interruption or uncertainty.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 9:57 a.m.

The Government have had any number of opportunities to take no deal off the table. Last night, Parliament had to start the almost unprecedented step of passing legislation that is fiercely opposed by the Government to put Parliament and these islands where the Government should have put us a while ago. Last week, we had the astonishing spectacle of the Chief Whip going on the record to say that the Prime Minister had got it all wrong. Does the Secretary of State agree with the Chief Whip?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:57 a.m.

What my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has got right is the fact that we need a solution to the impasse. That is why this week, she has very openly invited the Leader of the Opposition to talks to track a way forward.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 9:57 a.m.

It is very noticeable that the Prime Minister is still refusing to talk to anyone who might say anything she disagrees with, but we will see what comes out of the talks. Given that it is the clear will of this House that no deal must be avoided and that this Parliament is in the process of passing legislation to prevent no deal from happening, is it tenable for any Minister of the Crown to continue actively to promote a no-deal Brexit that has been rejected by Parliament and was never endorsed by the people in the first place?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:58 a.m.

In respect of my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister listening to diverse views, my understanding is that she spoke to the First Minister of Scotland yesterday and has been engaged in conversations with her. The position of the Government has always been the same: we favour a deal. We want to leave the EU with a negotiated deal, but it would be irresponsible of the Government not to prepare for no deal, because that still might happen. Indeed, Michel Barnier said this week that it was likely. It is therefore exactly the right thing for the Government to prepare for the scenario of no deal.

Ronnie Cowan Portrait Ronnie Cowan (Inverclyde) (SNP)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

12. What recent discussions he has had with the devolved Administrations on the UK leaving the EU. [910221]

Break in Debate

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab)
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13. Whether the Government plan to bring forward legislative proposals to prepare for the UK leaving the EU without a withdrawal agreement. [910222]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 9:59 a.m.

The Government have undertaken extensive work to identify the legislation essential to deliver our exit from the EU. In fact, as I speak, almost all the statutory instruments—93% of them—required for a functioning statute book on exit day have been laid before Parliament.

Diana Johnson Portrait Diana Johnson
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 10 a.m.

The Government have failed to pass the Trade Bill, the Agriculture Bill, the Fisheries Bill, the financial services Bill and the environment Bill, and they have even failed to introduce the EU withdrawal Bill. Does that not show those who think we are ready to leave in a no-deal situation on 12 April that the Government are not prepared for that at all?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10 a.m.

I reject the assumption behind the question. As I stated, almost all the SIs required—93% of something like 600—have been passed. She is quite right that there are Bills currently in Parliament that are being discussed and that are going through both Houses. All those Bills provide for a range of negotiation outcomes, as she knows, including a no-deal scenario.

Stephen Timms Portrait Stephen Timms (East Ham) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 10:01 a.m.

Is it not now inconceivable to pass a meaningful vote before the EU Council next Thursday and therefore unavoidable to seek a lengthy Brexit delay and to hold European Parliament elections?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:01 a.m.

Given what we have seen in the past few weeks, I would never use “inconceivable”; anything can happen, as the right hon. Gentleman knows. I am confident that we will get a deal through. I am hopeful of that, because that is the only way that we will get a negotiated and orderly exit from the EU.

Toby Perkins Portrait Toby Perkins (Chesterfield) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

14. What assessment he has made of the effect on UK manufacturing of the UK leaving the EU without mutual recognition of regulatory standards in that sector. [910223]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:01 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will be aware that we have had extensive meetings across the country, and I have seen many companies. We continue to recognise the importance of UK manufacturing and of maintaining a close trading relationship with the EU. As the political declaration sets out, we have already agreed to establish a free trade area for goods. We recognise that manufacturing is an essential part of the economy.

Toby Perkins Portrait Toby Perkins
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 10:02 a.m.

That was not really much to do with my question, which was about regulatory standards. Weightron Bilanciai, a Chesterfield-based industrial weighing machine manufacturer, had to spend around £50,000 to have all its products re-certified in the Netherlands, because they will no longer be certified and recognised for sale in the EU after we leave. Are the costs paid by UK manufacturing and the impact on British businesses the most serious example of the Government’s failure to come up with a trade deal?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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4 Apr 2019, 10:03 a.m.

I will tell the hon. Gentleman about failure. What is actually crippling and increasing uncertainty for his manufacturing sector is his repeated rejection of the deal, which would actually have an implementation period and would give certainty and direction to the very companies he seeks to represent in the House.

Melanie Onn (Great Grimsby) (Lab)
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4 Apr 2019, 10:03 a.m.

The Minister said that anything can happen. Total Lindsey oil refinery contacted me this week to warn me about the risk, in the event of no deal, of the equivalent of Chinese steel dumping but with US gasoline if we end up with 0% import tariffs. That will result in the loss or downgrading of up to 900 jobs in my area. Does he agree that that would irrevocably damage our local economy?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The question I ask myself—[Hon. Members: “Answer!”] I am answering the hon. Lady’s question. Given that she has so much concern for manufacturing interests in her constituency, why on earth has she rejected, on three occasions, the only deal that would provide certainty and a degree of consistency for the companies she seeks to represent?

David Duguid Portrait David Duguid (Banff and Buchan) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

15. What steps his Department is taking to help maintain the rights of EU citizens in the UK in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal. [910224]

Break in Debate

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Barry Sheerman (Huddersfield) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

16. What recent assessment he has made of the effect on the UK manufacturing sector of the UK leaving the EU without a deal. [910225]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:05 a.m.

Obviously, manufacturing is vital to everything we do. We remain committed, through our industrial strategy, to making the UK the best place to start and grow a business. There are now 3.5 million more people in work than in 2010. It seems very remiss for Opposition Members to complain about uncertainty when they have rejected the deal not once, not twice, but three times. This deal will provide the certainty that the hon. Gentleman’s manufacturing interests will recognise and appreciate.

Barry Sheerman Portrait Mr Sheerman
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4 Apr 2019, 10:06 a.m.

We all had a late night last night, but this is a zombie Secretary of State with zombie Ministers. When will they wake up? Yesterday, the all-party parliamentary manufacturing group, which I chair, was told by a leading professor from the business schools of both Sheffield and Birmingham that, however we leave Europe, we will have a 4% to 5% drop in GDP, but that GDP in the constituencies and towns that voted to leave will drop by a crippling 17% to 20%. That may not include Spelthorne, where I grew up, but it will devastate this country’s manufacturing base.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:06 a.m.

First, I would like to confirm to the House that we are not zombies. Secondly, Spelthorne has manufacturing interests, as the hon. Gentleman’s constituency does. The manufacturing interests in my constituency always tell me, “Back the Prime Minister’s deal—back certainty. Let’s get this thing over the line and move on with our lives.” That is what they want.

Mr Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) (Lab/Co-op)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 10:07 a.m.

The highly integrated supply chains in the motor and aviation industries require convergence and regulatory alignment with product manufacture, both in the EU and in the UK. What guarantees can the Minister give that, in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal, we will have a role in shaping the future regulatory framework?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:07 a.m.

Obviously, it has been the Government’s repeated intention not to leave without a deal. The hon. Gentleman will know that part 3 of the withdrawal agreement deals extensively with the kind of regulations that would be in place in the implementation period, which, if the deal goes through, will give us another 20 months to negotiate a free trade agreement.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

18. If he will make an assessment of the potential negative effect on his Department’s policies of a second referendum on the UK leaving the EU. [910230]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

4 Apr 2019, 10:08 a.m.

My hon. Friend will appreciate that a second referendum would have a very corrosive impact not only on our politics, but on trust, which has been mentioned many times. A clear instruction was given in 2016 to withdraw from the EU, and that is what the Government remain absolutely committed to fulfilling.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

4 Apr 2019, 10:08 a.m.

I am grateful to the Minister for that answer. Beyond that impact, what assessment has he made of the democratic and financial impacts of pursuing such a change in policy?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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4 Apr 2019, 10:08 a.m.

My hon. Friend is quite right: holding a second referendum would create enormous uncertainty that would undermine the strong economic achievement of the Government and of our businesses. It would essentially take us back to square one and result in more delay at a time when the public simply want politicians to deliver what they promised.

Sammy Wilson Portrait Sammy Wilson (East Antrim) (DUP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

After the talks with the Labour party leader yesterday, the Chancellor said this morning that a second referendum is more likely. Are we seeing the start of yet another U-turn from a Government who have abandoned all their promises on going forward with no deal, having no border down the Irish sea and ensuring that we leave the EU on 29 March?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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4 Apr 2019, 10:09 a.m.

In respect of the second referendum, as I said to my hon. Friend the Member for Corby (Tom Pursglove), it is Government policy to honour the 2016 referendum. That is what we have been tasked to do, and that is what we are 100% focused on. The second referendum is a red herring, frankly. It is not something that we countenance. We want to deliver on the 2016 referendum.

Tim Loughton Portrait Tim Loughton (East Worthing and Shoreham) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

19. What recent assessment he has made of the potential effect on the financial services sector of the UK leaving the EU. [910231]

Break in Debate

Andrew Lewer Portrait Andrew Lewer (Northampton South) (Con)
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T6. The digital single market copyright directive is on its way to becoming law in the EU. This could have significant implications for the UK’s intellectual property-rich creative industries, particularly publishing, whose successes are underpinned by the gold standard copyright system. How consistent will the UK’s copyright regime be with the EU’s when—perhaps I should say if—we leave? [910240]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

The UK’s IP regime does indeed represent a gold standard internationally, and that will not change as we leave the EU.

Ruth George (High Peak) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

T2. The Prime Minister has confirmed that the future declaration is not legally binding, so what assurances can the Government give us on trade tariffs, rights at work, food standards and environmental protections that will be binding on whoever ends up negotiating our permanent deal with the EU? [910236]

Break in Debate

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
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4 Apr 2019, 10:28 a.m.

North-east manufacturers have achieved great success as part of integrated, just-in-time pan-European supply chains, which mean that, as one manufacturer puts it, their stock room is somebody else’s delivery van. These manufacturers are now having to stockpile as a consequence of this Brexit chaos, and that has implications for their cash flow and finances. What help is the Minister looking to provide for them and what hope of future economic integration can he offer them in the case of there being a deal without a customs union?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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4 Apr 2019, 10:28 a.m.

I have travelled in the north-east, although not quite in the hon. Lady’s constituency, and I have seen chemicals firms in the petrochemicals industry. They say with one voice that they want a solution to this impasse, just as we do in this House. They want to have a deal, to have the implementation period and to move on from this.

Rachel Maclean Portrait Rachel Maclean (Redditch) (Con)
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4 Apr 2019, 10:28 a.m.

Forcing the UK to take part in European parliamentary elections would show a fundamental lack of respect for our democratic process, wouldn’t it?

European Union (Withdrawal) Act

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Monday 25th March 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Exiting the European Union
Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP)
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25 Mar 2019, 7:24 p.m.

This morning, I left my home, not far from the town of St Andrews in my constituency, to set off on my regular commute. Like other Members of this House from different parts of the United Kingdom, I travelled quite literally by plane, train and automobile. Like most weeks, I had no idea when I would be going home to my family and my constituents, but unlike most weeks, my family, my constituents and I had no idea whether, by the time I got home, I would still be afforded the rights and privileges that EU citizens take as their own. What a state to be in, all these years on. That is why I thank the right hon. Members for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and for Derby South (Margaret Beckett), and their colleagues, for the work that they have put into their amendments, which the SNP will obviously back this evening.

We are here for no other reason than an attempt to offset a Tory civil war. This disaster is years in the making, and we are only in this situation because once upon a time David Cameron decided to call an EU referendum so that he could avoid a full-blown Tory civil war. There are many people in the House who will disagree with me.

Stephen Gethins
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

25 Mar 2019, 7:26 p.m.

But I am not sure that there are many who will disagree with me when I say that it is not working very well, is it? How is that attempt to avoid a Tory civil war going? Does the Minister want to intervene now? No, I did not think so, because there is a full-blown civil war in his party. And this is a Tory party determined to take the rest of us down as well, but today’s amendments give us the chance—for the moment—to stave off that opportunity that the Tories are trying to give us.

The Prime Minister continues to appeal to the hardliners in her own party, rather than to face up to the reality of minority government, but this is a lost cause. The Brexiteers who campaigned without any sort of plan are the ones who got us into this mess. And, frankly, the message to the Prime Minister must be that they are unlikely to get us out of it. Now, it is not for me to judge Conservative party management—the voters will have their opportunity to do that in due course—but what strikes me is just how in thrall this Conservative Prime Minister is to the extremists in her own party. With that, I want to praise some Conservative Members, because there are Members who I disagree with and who disagree with me, but who have stuck their necks out, and look at the way they have been treated.

The hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford (Nick Boles), who is in his place, and I disagree over plenty, including Brexit; he wants us to leave the European Union and I do not. Some Members have tried to make positive proposals, although we do not always agree on them. But even when one of those proposals is accepted by the Government—as was the case with the amendment tabled by the hon. Member for South Leicestershire (Alberto Costa)—we are now in a situation whereby the hon. Member for Grantham and Stamford finds himself deselected and the hon. Member for South Leicestershire finds himself sacked, yet all along—I disagree with them over this—they have backed the Prime Minister’s deal. What does that tell us about trying to find some kind of consensus or trying to reach across? This is a Government who are in thrall to the very extremes, and this House cannot put up with that any longer. Just look at the invitation list of those who were treated to lunch at Chequers: the very people voting against the Prime Minister. This tells us everything about a Prime Minister who has lost control of her own party and who has dragged us into this folly.

European Council: Article 50 Extension

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Friday 22nd March 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Exiting the European Union
Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:01 a.m.

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union to make a statement on the extension to the article 50 process agreed at the European Council summit on 21 March.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:03 a.m.

Last night, the Prime Minister met Donald Tusk, following the EU Council’s discussion on the UK’s request for the approval of the Strasbourg supplementary documents and for a short extension to the article 50 process. The Council agreed, subject to this House approving the withdrawal agreement next week, an extension of the article 50 period to 22 May. This provides Parliament with time to pass the necessary implementing legislation and to complete ratification. If Parliament does not approve the withdrawal agreement next week, article 50 will be extended until 12 April. As my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said in Brussels last night, at that point we would either leave without a deal or we would need to put forward an alternative plan.

The House should be aware that the European Council has clarified that any extension beyond 22 May will require the UK to participate in European parliamentary elections. The Prime Minister has made clear her view: that it would be quite wrong to hold these elections three years after this country voted to leave the European Union. The House should also recognise, as my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister said last night, that we are now at the moment of decision. She, and the whole of this Government, will continue to make every effort to get a deal agreed so that we can leave the EU in an orderly manner and move the country forward.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:04 a.m.

I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question? However, given the significance of what was agreed in Brussels yesterday evening, the Government should have made a statement to the House this morning, instead of requiring us, once again, to drag Ministers to the Chamber. On Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister made a divisive speech from Downing Street, in which she chastised right hon. and hon. Members for not making a decision on Brexit. But we have made a decision, voting down her deal twice by historic margins. It is just that it is a decision the Prime Minister is clearly incapable of accepting. It is her intransigence, her pandering to the hardliners in her own party and her refusal to compromise that has brought us to this point. Now that the article 50 process has been extended, I trust that responsible Ministers are urging their colleagues to change course.

Let me turn to the substance of the EU Council’s communiqué. It makes it clear that, provided the withdrawal agreement is approved by this House next week, an extension will be granted to 22 May. Can the Minister therefore confirm that the Government will give us a third meaningful vote next week and, if so, on what day? Can he explain how the Government intend to comply with the terms of the statement that you, Mr Speaker, made on Monday to the effect that to have a chance of being put the motion would have to be “substantially” different? Can he commit now publicly to publishing the necessary secondary legislation and giving the House the opportunity to approve it at the earliest possible opportunity?

The Minister will know that it is highly likely that if the deal is brought back next week, it will once again be voted down. The Council’s communiqué makes it clear that if it is, the article 50 process will be extended to 12 April, in the expectation that the UK will “indicate a way forward” before that date. As such, can the Minister state categorically that in the event of such a scenario it would not be the Government’s policy to take us out of the EU without a deal, on or after 12 April? If that is the case—this is the crucial question—could the Minister set out the process by which the Government will provide this House with an opportunity to properly debate the range of alternative options available to us and to facilitate attempts to secure a majority for one of them?

Ministers have constantly told us that a responsible Government prepare for all eventualities. With that in mind, can the Minister tell us what contingency plans are being made for the distinct possibility that an extension beyond 12 April will be required? Over recent months, we have repeatedly argued that an extension to the article 50 process was inevitable and we have made it clear that its length must be determined by its purpose. After next week, it must be for Parliament to finally determine what that purpose is, so that we in this House can do what is right for businesses, communities and people in every region and nation of the UK. In short, it is time that we took back control.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:07 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman asks a number of questions and makes a number of assertions, some of which are simply not true, frankly. The idea that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister has refused to compromise is an exaggeration; I do not think that is an accurate reflection of what has happened. With respect to his remarks about the meaningful vote, the Leader of the House set out clearly in her business statement yesterday that she will make a further business statement next week, which would be appropriate—[Interruption.]

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Order. Sorry, but there is a rather unseemly atmosphere in the Chamber.

Break in Debate

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:09 a.m.

I do not think it was unparliamentary language. Whether it was altogether tactful is a matter for speculation and conjecture, and people will have their own view on that. I am inclined charitably to interpret what the Minister said from the Bench; when he said that the Opposition spokesman had made statements that were “not true”, I have to assume that he was asserting that the shadow Minister was incorrect—that he was erroneous. I cannot believe for one moment that the Minister was accusing the shadow Minister of lying, because that would be disorderly.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

indicated dissent.

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:08 a.m.

Indeed, the shake of the head from the Minister on the Treasury Bench, which will be recorded in the Official Report, testifies to the correctness of my interpretation. May I gently suggest to the Minister, who has had a difficult time at the Box this week, that a felicitous use of phrase would probably be to his advantage?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:08 a.m.

Thank you very much for your guidance, Mr Speaker. I would also like to stress that I was not making any assertions as to the hon. Gentleman’s moral character; I was just making a statement about my view of certain things that he said.

On the hon. Gentleman’s question about the meaningful vote, it is the Government’s full intention to bring this meaningful vote to the House. We have to have a decision, and the House has to decide whether it will vote for a deal and commit to an orderly exit from the EU or whether it seeks to maintain a stance of indecision and to continue the uncertainty.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:09 a.m.

I am not sure the Minister has answered the crucial question put to him. In order to comply with the Speaker’s ruling and have a chance of getting meaningful vote 3 through the House, there has to be a substantial change in the offer. The EU will not carry on negotiating, so the only way to do that is to do so unilaterally by way of declaration. Will the Minister comment on that? Will he make it absolutely clear today, on behalf of the whole Government, not just the Prime Minister, that three years after the referendum it would be utterly intolerable were we still to be in the EU during the European elections? I want him to give an absolute commitment today that the Government would rather resign than be privy to such an appalling betrayal of the people’s trust.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:10 a.m.

I am pleased that my right hon. Friend asked that question. Obviously, I cannot comment from the Dispatch Box as to what the Government will or will not do in the event of a European parliamentary election, because we are talking about hypotheticals, as my right hon. Friend always likes to do. I can only reiterate the words of the Prime Minister on this: it would be intolerable to have European elections, given that we would have had three years since the country voted to leave the EU.

Hilary Benn Portrait Hilary Benn (Leeds Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:11 a.m.

We will not now be leaving the EU on 29 March, but this is crisis delayed, not crisis avoided. Will the Government now support the cross-party amendment for Monday tabled by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) and supported by many others, which would enable the House to hold a series of indicative votes? If the House does agree on a way forward, will the Government support it? Because continuing to say “My deal or no deal” will simply see the country continue to hurtle towards the edge of a cliff.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:12 a.m.

The right hon. Gentleman makes an assumption about when the meaningful vote may take place. At the moment, the Government’s focus is to make sure that we can potentially get a meaningful vote and secure the deal on the table. That is what I have always maintained, not only since I have been in office but before. We want to pass the meaningful vote and introduce the withdrawal Bill. If the meaningful vote does not get through, we will have to look at alternatives.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:12 a.m.

My I remind the Minister of Denis Healey’s first rule of politics? When you are in a hole, stop digging.

Whenever the meaningful vote is tabled—if you allow it, Mr Speaker—I believe that the House will vote it down, not least because of the rather hubristic speech that the Prime Minister made when she, in effect, attacked Members of this House for having the temerity to vote with their consciences. I think it will not go through. Will the Minister confirm that if that is the case, as I very much hope and believe it will be, we cannot extend again beyond 12 April, even if the EU Council wants us to, unless the United Kingdom agrees?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:13 a.m.

Of course, that is absolutely the case. If my right hon. Friend is right and the meaningful vote comes to the House and is voted down, the European Council will not be able to impose, necessarily, any exit terms on this House. We would have to have some consent in this House on the way forward.

Stella Creasy Portrait Stella Creasy (Walthamstow) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:14 a.m.

The Minister says the House is in a state of indecision; it is not. The House has repeatedly decided: it decided on 15 January, on 12 March and on 13 March. In fact, it has decided repeatedly, every single week for the past few weeks, to say no to the Prime Minister. The House also wants to get on and make decisions. My right hon. Friend the Member for Leeds Central (Hilary Benn) talked about the cross-party amendment; if the House votes for that amendment and gets the opportunity to move things on, will the Government honour the will of the House—yes or no?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:15 a.m.

The hon. Lady suggests that the House has actually decided; the House has decided to say no many times, but it has not decided to have a course of action or a plan that will take us out of the EU. All I would ask for from Members of this House is a degree of patience. Let us see what happens in the meaningful vote, and we will then have to take forward the necessary actions. I do not want to prejudge that vote now.

Kevin Foster Portrait Kevin Foster (Torbay) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:15 a.m.

It was interesting to see the outcome of the Council last night. Will the Minister reassure me that we remain committed to delivering the result of the 2016 referendum, and that next week the House faces the only three choices that we can take unilaterally: no deal, revocation of article 50, or support the deal on the table? There is nothing else.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:15 a.m.

As usual, my hon. Friend, with customary clarity, gets straight to the point. There are three choices facing the House. We sincerely hope, even at this stage, that we can get the deal through and leave in an orderly fashion. That is exactly what Her Majesty’s Government want to do.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:16 a.m.

I detect from the smile on the Minister’s face when he answers some of these questions that he knows perfectly well that he has been sent out on to some very thin ice and a very sticky wicket—if the House does not mind me mixing my metaphors. There are so many things to which he does not know the answer that there is no point in even asking, because the Prime Minister does not even know, but let me ask a simple question to which he might know the answer. Will we be sitting next Friday and will we be sitting in the week commencing 8 April, which will lead up to 12 April?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:16 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will know that Friday sittings are a matter for the House—[Interruption.] Absolutely, they are, in terms of procedure. We do not even know whether the meaningful vote will take place or get through. The hon. Gentleman will know that that is a matter of procedure.

Vicky Ford Portrait Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:17 a.m.

My diary is definitely clear, should we need to have more discussions.

Many Members of this House want to deliver on the referendum result in an orderly manner, and I will support the withdrawal agreement, when it comes back to the House, as the best way to do that, but if it does not go through and there are indicative votes, will they be free votes, so that everybody outside the Chamber can see that we truly are acting to try to find the best way forward, although the circumstances are difficult?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:18 a.m.

Obviously, if the House is asked to decide a way forward, it would be surprising if those votes were not free votes. Again, though, my hon. Friend will understand that the ultimate decision is for the business managers and will be taken as and when the debate takes place. [Interruption.] I said it would be a matter of surprise to me.

Owen Smith (Pontypridd) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:18 a.m.

Reports state that yesterday evening the Prime Minister left European leaders deeply unimpressed with her performance. That described a familiar situation for those of us in the House who are used to questioning the Government. Did the Minister really say a moment ago, from the Dispatch Box, that he anticipates that the Government will have a free vote on the withdrawal agreement when it comes back?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:19 a.m.

With respect, the hon. Gentleman utterly misheard, or certainly misunderstood, what I said. I was not referring to the meaningful vote; I was referring to the indicative votes suggested by my hon. Friend the Member for Chelmsford (Vicky Ford) in her question.

Roger Gale Portrait Sir Roger Gale (North Thanet) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:19 a.m.

The extension agreed by the EU last night was clearly a significant alteration in the circumstances, which I hope will mean you feel able to allow the meaningful vote to be put to the House again next week, Mr Speaker. I am saddened that the Opposition Front Bencher, the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook), found it necessary to criticise the Downing Street speech. It was not a statement of opinion; it was a statement of fact. The fact is that hon. Members on both sides of the House have been very good at finding things they cannot agree with and not very good at finding things or a particular solution they can agree with. Does my hon. Friend agree that the Prime Minister is offering not a grievance but a solution, and one that we should now support?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:20 a.m.

I cannot agree with my right hon. Friend strongly enough. The Prime Minister has set out her deal. I strongly believe it is the best way out of the EU and will continue to make that case, along with other members of the Government.

Thangam Debbonaire Portrait Thangam Debbonaire (Bristol West) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:20 a.m.

I am heartily sick of being told by Ministers and other Members that the House has not said what it wants. We keep having that option ruled out. If the Minister is cross with us for not saying what we want, will he now commit the Government to supporting the amendment that would provide for indicative votes on what we do want? Some of us would really like the opportunity to say what we want.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:21 a.m.

I can reassure the hon. Lady that I am not cross at all. [Interruption.] Well, I am not; I am perfectly happy to take questions and to engage with the House. If we lose the meaningful vote, we will proceed to face the question the EU has set out in terms of 12 April, as the Prime Minister and Donald Tusk made very clear yesterday.

Julian Lewis Portrait Dr Julian Lewis (New Forest East) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:21 a.m.

If indicative votes take place, whether whipped or free, and if they contradict the outcome of the referendum of 2016, which will the Government feel obliged to obey?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:21 a.m.

As my right hon. Friend knows, the Government have always been committed to honouring the result of the referendum, and we fully intend to leave the EU in an orderly manner, which is why at this late stage I continue to urge Members to back the deal.

Richard Burden (Birmingham, Northfield) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:22 a.m.

The Minister has urged the House to move beyond “indecision” and to adopt a “course of action” or “plan”. Does he not accept that the amendment tabled by the right hon. Member for West Dorset (Sir Oliver Letwin) would achieve precisely that, and why does he have such difficulty saying that the Government would support it and honour it if it was passed?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:22 a.m.

As the hon. Gentleman knows, that amendment—it is not clear whether it has even been accepted—has been rejected twice, and there is no reason the Government should back an amendment that has been rejected twice.

John Howell Portrait John Howell (Henley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:23 a.m.

I say to the House gently that I am less and less interested in hypothetical solutions to this problem. I voted for the deal and will do so again. The issue of no deal is not about trading on WTO terms; it is about ending the enormous uncertainty that will continue for companies if we go out in a no-deal scenario.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:23 a.m.

My hon. Friend puts it extremely well. These hypothetical discussions do not alleviate the uncertainty or address the problem. There is huge uncertainty, and the sooner we end it by backing a deal, the better it will be for this country.

Andy Slaughter Portrait Andy Slaughter (Hammersmith) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:24 a.m.

I am tempted to ask the Minister what he had for breakfast this morning, as that might be a question he can answer. His performance is emblematic of the shambolic lack of preparedness over this whole issue. I will try a few very simple questions. Is the meaningful vote coming forward next week? If so, on which day? And if, as seems almost inevitable, it is voted down again, what happens then?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:24 a.m.

As with my hon. Friend the Member for Henley (John Howell), I am not getting into hypo- theticals. I have said that we hope to have a meaningful vote—let us see, Mr Speaker, if you decide that it is in order—and then we can test the will of the House.

Mike Wood Portrait Mike Wood (Dudley South) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:24 a.m.

Can the Minister confirm that, notwithstanding last night’s agreement, the article 50 period will only be extended if the House votes for a statutory instrument to give effect to such an extension?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:24 a.m.

My hon. Friend is quite right. The Government would have to lay a statutory instrument and the House would have to debate and vote on it.

Jo Stevens Portrait Jo Stevens (Cardiff Central) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:25 a.m.

Does the Minister not accept the irony—some would say hypocrisy—of the Government saying the public can have a vote neither on whether to agree the Prime Minister’s deal or remain nor in the European elections but that the House can vote three times on her deal?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:25 a.m.

And Labour Members are urging the Cooper-Boles amendment. It has been rejected twice, yet they still seek to bring it back to the House. That is how the House of Commons is operating these days.

Greg Hands Portrait Greg Hands (Chelsea and Fulham) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:25 a.m.

Since last night’s European Council meeting, would the Minister say that his Department’s preparations for no deal have been stepped up or stepped down?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:25 a.m.

My right hon. Friend will know that the Department has been engaged in no-deal preparation for about two years now, although it has been ramped up in the last few months, and we fully expect to be absolutely ready if this country leaves the EU without a deal.

David Hanson (Delyn) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:26 a.m.

With due respect to the Minister, I am still not clear about the process from here. The world outside this Chamber would like to know on what day we will have a meaningful vote, whether the motion will be different from the one taken twice before and when the Government will lay the statutory instrument to extend article 50 beyond 29 March. People with businesses want to know the answers to those questions, and the Minister, on behalf of the Government, has a responsibility to answer them in this Chamber.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:27 a.m.

We all have a responsibility. As I and other members of the Government have been saying for many months, the most orderly way to leave is by backing the deal, but other Members have taken a different view. The Government fully intend to have a meaningful vote next week, and, as a consequence of a vote either way, I am sure that a statutory instrument will be introduced to the House early next week. That is the timeframe I have been led to believe. I think that is where we are.

Christopher Chope Portrait Sir Christopher Chope (Christchurch) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:27 a.m.

So the statutory instrument will be issued on Monday or Tuesday? It has taken a long time to get even that information out of my hon. Friend. Can he expand upon whether the SI will be issued in draft before or after the Government’s next—and likely failed—attempt to get this ludicrous deal through?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:27 a.m.

I am not going to say today—Friday—the exact hour and time the meaningful vote will take place or the SI will be tabled. I have set out the path and the process very clearly. My hon. Friend should refer to my earlier remarks.

Mr Paul Sweeney (Glasgow North East) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:28 a.m.

This is not so much a crisis of the constitution as a crisis of leadership on the part of the Government. Parliament is not the problem; Parliament has not had the opportunity to find a way forward and establish a majority for anything because the Government have prevented it from doing so. That is the reality. I do not think that the Minister will be able to table the motion next week unless he substantially changes it, because you have ruled it would be out of order, Mr Speaker. Will he confirm that he does not intend to substantially change the withdrawal agreement and political declaration prior to subjecting them to another meaningful vote, and if the motion is ruled out of order, will he accept the need to establish a majority to amend it for it to proceed?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:29 a.m.

I am not going to second-guess your decision on the meaningful vote, Mr Speaker, but there is a body of opinion, which I happen to share, that the circumstances will have changed—we will have had EU input on the timetable—and that it may well be argued that those changed circumstances allow another meaningful vote.

Tom Pursglove Portrait Tom Pursglove (Corby) (Con)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:23 a.m.

I am afraid that I fundamentally disagree with this business of extension in the first place, but will my hon. Friend confirm whether there are any additional financial commitments associated with the proposed extension?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

As far as I am aware, we have not discussed any more financial commitments outside those detailed in part 5 of the withdrawal agreement.

Danielle Rowley (Midlothian) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:28 a.m.

I absolutely despair at what this whole charade is doing to public trust in this place. That was not helped by the Prime Minister pitting the people against Parliament in an absolutely shocking speech. My constituents, who have been contacting me in their hundreds, say that they do not want a no-deal exit and that they do not want the Prime Minister’s deal, and that is what Parliament has also ruled. The Minister is talking about hypotheticals, but, given that it is almost Friday afternoon, next week’s business is not hypothetical. What will he say to reassure people outside of this place that this is not just an absolute farce?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:30 a.m.

What I say is: back the deal.

Philip Davies Portrait Philip Davies (Shipley) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:31 a.m.

There are millions of people outside this House who are absolutely seething. They are largely seething with people who stood on a promise to deliver the result of the referendum and who, once elected, try to frustrate, or in some cases even overturn, the result that they promised to honour when they stood at the general election. If those people do not think that there will be a backlash, they are in cloud cuckoo land. The Government could, and should, leave on 29 March, as they promised all the way along. Why are they not doing that, and will the Minister give an absolute assurance that the two dates mentioned—the one in May and the one in April—will not, in any circumstances, be superseded by pushing it to a later date, because to do so would be the most appalling betrayal of trust to the British people?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:31 a.m.

I cannot recommend the words of my hon. Friend enough. We all stood on manifestos in this place that committed to honour the 2016 referendum result. Some Members of this House have essentially sought to flout that and turn their backs on the strong commitments that they made and they will have to answer for that. The Government are still committed to honouring the referendum and leaving the EU in an orderly way.

Anna McMorrin Portrait Anna McMorrin (Cardiff North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:32 a.m.

The country is facing a national emergency, and this Government are taking us to the brink. We have seen a petition to revoke reaching nearly 3 million signatures in less than 48 hours. That is unprecedented. Will the Government seek another way forward by asking Parliament and then put that back to the people, or by revoking article 50?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:32 a.m.

It is not Government policy, and never has been, to flout the 2016 referendum result, going back on what the people voted for, or to revoke article 50.

Hugh Gaffney (Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:32 a.m.

Can the Minister suggest to the Prime Minister that her deal is dead and that MV3 is dead? May I also suggest that she watches the “Monty Python” sketch on the dead parrot to see that her deal is dead? If she is not willing to listen, perhaps she is willing to watch and then bring back a statement that will unite us rather than divide us.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:33 a.m.

As I have said, I would be very surprised if the Prime Minister does not make a statement on Monday. Downing Street is, I think, committed to that. What I say is that a deal is the best way forward. That is the best way to leave the EU in an orderly way.

Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi Portrait Mr Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi (Slough) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:33 a.m.

I found the statement by the Prime Minister sickening and revolting because she pitted our constituents—the British public—directly against us. It has made our job a lot, lot harder simply because she is trying to place her complacency and her ineptitude and inabilities to strike a deal on to us. Will the Minister respond by saying that, along with bringing back a meaningful vote next week, the Prime Minister will also come to the Dispatch Box to offer a full and unreserved apology to us all as parliamentarians?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:34 a.m.

I am sure the Prime Minister will be coming to the Dispatch Box to give an account of what happened in the various conversations that she has had with EU27 leaders. In her statement, I think she was essentially reflecting a feeling among constituents—certainly among my constituents—that the House of Commons needs to get round a decision and move this thing forward.

Gareth Snell (Stoke-on-Trent Central) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:35 a.m.

I am sure the Minister and the whole House will agree that, when a motion is defeated by a majority of almost 250 Members of this place and when Members such as me vote against that motion knowing that it will mean that that motion may not come back, we do not expect it to be hawked around for a second, third or fourth time. I voted against the people’s vote motion last week, and I presumed that the same would apply, given that the majority was almost the same. May I suggest to the Minister that one way through this would be to bring forward parts of the withdrawal amendment Bill and place in it, on statute, the roll that this House will play in the next phase of negotiations? We are in this mess, frankly, because the Prime Minister went to Europe and cut a deal that she supported without checking with us first. If she repeats that mistake, this process will go on for far longer than the European elections.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:35 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman will understand that the Bill will only be introduced subject to the House voting through the meaningful vote. That is, I am afraid, standard process in these matters.

Karen Buck Portrait Ms Karen Buck (Westminster North) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:35 a.m.

The Minister keeps saying that he will not engage in hypotheticals, but on 14 March the Deputy Prime Minister said that the Government would, if a meaningful vote is not approved,

“facilitate a process in the two weeks after the March European Council to allow ​the House to seek a majority on the way forward.”—[Official Report, 14 March 2019; Vol. 656, c. 563.]

Does he agree with the Deputy Prime Minister? If he does, can he tell us exactly when, and by what process, he would take forward the means of this Parliament reaching an agreement?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:36 a.m.

I agree with the hon. Lady to a point. If the meaningful vote is voted down, it would be reasonable to have a wide debate in the House, as the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster suggested two weeks ago, to find what the House would tolerate and how it sees things going forward. I agree with that.

Glyn Davies (Montgomeryshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:37 a.m.

I voted leave in 1975 and I voted leave again in 2016. It is crucial that we respect the vote of the referendum. Does my hon. Friend the Minister agree that the best way to achieve that, and indeed to retain good, solid working relationships with our current European partners, is by supporting the withdrawal agreement and voting for it in the meaningful vote?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:37 a.m.

In all this noise and debate, the course outlined by my hon. Friend is the most secure one. It is the best one for delivering on certainty for our businesses. I, along with him, will continue to support the deal.

Mike Kane Portrait Mike Kane (Wythenshawe and Sale East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:38 a.m.

In an age of polemics, I like to think of myself as a meek politician, but, in the biblical sense, meekness is a continuum from outright rage to outright apathy. As I listened to the Prime Minister’s statement on Wednesday night, I was filled with nothing but wrath for it. This is a person who holds an office that technically has an immense power and who has promised to leave the European Union on 108 occasions in this House yet has failed to deliver. Does the Minister think that the Prime Minister helped her cause in any way whatever with that statement on Wednesday night?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:38 a.m.

My right hon. Friend the Prime Minister expressed the frustration that millions of people across this country feel at the inability of this House to move the debate forward and to honour its commitments to leave the EU and to honour the referendum of 2016.

Bill Esterson Portrait Bill Esterson (Sefton Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:38 a.m.

The Prime Minister said at her press conference last night that she would honour the commitments made by the Minister for the Cabinet Office to hold indicative votes if the withdrawal agreement was defeated again. I think that the Minister just confirmed that he agrees with her on that point. So when he confirms again in answer to this question that that is what he has just said, will he also confirm that the Government will be bound by the results of those indicative votes as a way out of the crisis that this country is currently in?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

All I said—I want to repeat it—is that, in the event of the House voting down the meaningful vote, it would not be unreasonable to have subsequent votes to find out what the House actually supported.

Cat Smith Portrait Cat Smith (Lancaster and Fleetwood) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, midnight

The Minister has said an awful lot about what he thinks, but not so much about what he knows. Does he think the Prime Minister even wants to get her deal through? She has to convince Members of this House to vote for it, but her irresponsible speech in Downing Street on Wednesday evening has seen increased hostility and threats, including death threats, towards Members of this House from members of the public, who she pitted against us.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I know that the Prime Minister has worked tirelessly to get the deal across the line, as have other members of her Government. We still maintain that this deal is the best way in which to leave the EU in an orderly and timely fashion.

Chris Elmore Portrait Chris Elmore (Ogmore) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

Before I ask my question, let me say that the Minister should join his Chief Whip in saying that he is appalled by the Prime Minister’s language. I have been standing up to bullies all my adult life and I will not be bullied by the Prime Minister, and neither will any Opposition Member. Will the Minister tell us what the new exit date will be after the SI has been tabled—12 April or 22 May?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The hon. Gentleman very ably sets out the alternative that the EU has suggested, but he will understand that it is conditional on what happens in the meaningful vote. If the meaningful vote goes through, we are leaving on 22 May. If it does not, 12 April is in play.

Ruth Smeeth (Stoke-on-Trent North) (Lab)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I just want to confirm what we have heard from the Minister today: we do not know when the meaningful vote will be; we do not know what will be in it; we do not know whether the Government will whip it; we do not know when the SI will be tabled; and now we do not even know what will be in the SI. How can we have any faith that this Government can deliver anything, never mind Brexit?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I have said that we are committed to having the meaningful vote next week, and that once the meaningful vote is decided one way or the other, we will be looking to introduce an SI to change the exit day.

Jim McMahon Portrait Jim McMahon (Oldham West and Royton) (Lab/Co-op)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The last few years have been extremely difficult for parliamentarians. The referendum divided the country, but we have desperately tried to respect the result and find a way through, after being put in a really uncompromising position by the Prime Minister. In that time, we have faced harassment and targeted threats. When we come down here, our families are fearful for our safety; when we are here, we fear for our families’ safety. And the Prime Minister—the Head of our Government—playing on that to try to bully and harass us even further will not work.

Good faith in this House is at a bare minimum now, and the Prime Minister has lost any good faith that I had in trying to work with her, but we still have to find time and find a deal, and that can be achieved only if the Government accept that we have to depart from the current withdrawal agreement to find a compromise that can win support across the House. The Minister must surely now accept that there has to be a change of direction.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I commend the hon. Gentleman for his remarks about the increased violence and threats faced by all Members of this House; it is right to observe this issue, particularly as we commemorate two years since people lost their lives in an attack on this place. With respect to the process, we still have to have the meaningful vote. The hon. Gentleman predicts that it will be voted down. If it is, we will table an SI in the manner that I have described. There may well be debates in the House to find a solution—a way forward. That is what I can commit to.

Jeff Smith Portrait Jeff Smith (Manchester, Withington) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

My hon. Friend the Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) was being rather generous and polite when he described the Prime Minister’s speech as divisive; it would have been better described as shamelessly arrogant and dangerous. The Prime Minister is continuing to display that arrogance in every forum, and it really cannot go on. With respect, other Ministers are displaying the same arrogance in failing to face up to the situation that we are in. The Minister says that there will be a meaningful vote early next week, followed by an SI that will be published early next week and which clearly has to be voted on before next Friday. Presumably, that can be voted on only after the meaningful vote, so I imagine that that will happen on Thursday or Friday. Can the Minister give us some clarity about what we are doing next week, because Members of this House need to know?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The technicalities of the business of the House are a matter for the Leader of the House. The hon. Gentleman says he is confused, but he ably set out the path for next week. We want to have a debate and a meaningful vote. In either eventuality after the meaningful vote, we will be looking to introduce an SI to amend the exit date. That is a very clear path.

Chi Onwurah Portrait Chi Onwurah (Newcastle upon Tyne Central) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The Prime Minister has succeeded in alienating this House and inflaming the divisions in our country. She is bringing the House into disrepute with her inability to recognise that the House and the country might hold an opinion different from her own. She is like a child who will not share her Brexit toy. But this is about all our futures, so will the Minister set out how the Government will give the House or the people of this country the opportunity to find a different way, because the Prime Minister is not going to get her own way on Brexit?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I assure the House that the Prime Minister has been absolutely committed to delivering on the result of the referendum—on the fact that we have to leave the EU. I believe, as does the Prime Minister, that the best way to do so is with a deal, and I will continue to argue passionately for that.

Matt Rodda Portrait Matt Rodda (Reading East) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

The Minister has come here and given a series of confused and contradictory replies to colleagues this morning. Once again, this shows the state of complete and utter disarray in which Ministers find themselves. When will the Government finally—at this late hour—look again at the whole issue of Brexit, and find an alternative way forward?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I would say that the confusion and contradiction sit on the Opposition Front Bench. Labour Front Benchers do not know whether they want to revoke article 50, do not know whether they want to honour the referendum and their commitment to leave, and do not know whether they want to be in a customs union or not. They give totally contradictory and confused answers. The Government have been incredibly consistent that the withdrawal agreement marks the best and most orderly way to leave the EU.

Christian Matheson Portrait Christian Matheson (City of Chester) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

Further to the question asked by my hon. Friend the Member for Manchester, Withington (Jeff Smith), while the Minister has been on his feet The Times journalist Francis Elliott has tweeted his information that the SI will be tabled and debated on either Monday or Tuesday, which rather throws us into further confusion, as my hon. Friend said, because that suggests that the meaningful vote would have to be taken before Monday or Tuesday. Can we have some clarity, or is it simply the case that the Minister is having to take one for the team?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

22 Mar 2019, 11:39 a.m.

I am very pleased that the tweet confirms what I have been saying. I have consistently said that the SI would be introduced early next week, and Monday or Tuesday conforms to what I said earlier from this Dispatch Box.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

On a point of order, Mr Speaker. The Minister said that whether we sit next Friday, or when we sit, is entirely up to the House. Well, the House can make those decisions only if the Government have tabled something to that effect. It seems perfectly likely that we will be sitting next Friday for the reasons that several hon. Members have already mentioned. However, the Easter recess dates have already been announced—I do not think that we have voted on them as there has not yet been a motion before the House, but I may be wrong on that—and people are making plans. As it stands, the Easter recess means that we would not be sitting on 12 April, which is one of the next dates that is meant to be important. Would it not be really helpful if the Leader of the House were to make a statement before the end of today as to the future plans for when we are going to be sitting?

EU Withdrawal Joint Committee: Oversight

Kwasi Kwarteng Excerpts
Wednesday 20th March 2019

(1 year, 8 months ago)

Commons Chamber

Read Full debate Read Hansard Text
Department for Exiting the European Union
Mark Francois Portrait Mr Mark Francois (Rayleigh and Wickford) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 11:54 a.m.

(Urgent Question): To ask the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union if he will outline what checks the House of Commons has over the powers of the “Joint Committee” contained in the proposed EU withdrawal agreement.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Kwasi Kwarteng)
- Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 11:54 a.m.

As is common in international agreements, the withdrawal agreement provides for a Joint Committee comprising representatives of the UK and the EU to govern the implementation and application of the withdrawal agreement. The Joint Committee will have the powers listed in article 164 of the agreement, to ensure that both parties are able to discuss any issues that may arise concerning the management and operation of the withdrawal agreement. As set out in paragraph 3 of article 166, the Joint Committee will make all its decisions and recommendations “by mutual consent” of the parties. In other words, it cannot act if the UK does not agree. This is an important protection for the UK that Members should welcome.

Clearly Parliament will expect to be able to undertake scrutiny of the work of the Joint Committee, as indeed will the European Parliament. Quite how that will operate is something that the Government will discuss with Members of this House and the other place, should this House give its support to the withdrawal agreement. But this House should be in no doubt: the Government’s approach at the Joint Committee will be underpinned by full ministerial accountability to Parliament.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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20 Mar 2019, 1:39 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. The Prime Minister is due to attend the critical European Council tomorrow and Friday. However, despite the imminence of those crucial negotiations, very few Members of Parliament in this House are even aware of the extensive powers of the EU-UK Joint Committee contained within the withdrawal agreement. It is very important that those powers are brought to the attention of the House before the Prime Minister attends the Council tomorrow, hence my request this morning.

The Joint Committee is designed to oversee all aspects of the operation of the agreement and, crucially, managing and supervising the implementation and operation of the future relationship. Its potentially wide-ranging powers are contained in articles 164 to 166 of the withdrawal agreement and its rules of procedure, which are an integral part of the treaty found at annex VIII, almost literally at the back of the 585-page document; there is, in fairness, an annex IX.

The decisions of the Committee have full force in international law, equivalent to the treaty itself, as guaranteed in article 166. The Committee can meet in private. It does not have to publish its agenda, any minutes or even a summary of its minutes and can be chaired by two unelected civil servants, nominated by either side, rather than by Ministers. Under its rules of procedure, the two co-chairmen, acting outside normal meetings, can even make legally binding decisions in its name by an exchange of notes, without any recourse to or consent from Parliament. Rule 9 of the rules and procedures, on decisions and recommendations, clearly states on page 565 of the treaty:

“1. In the period between meetings, the Joint Committee may adopt decisions or recommendations by written procedure, if the co-chairs decide to use this procedure. The written procedure shall consist of an exchange of notes between the co-chairs.

2. Where the Joint Committee adopts decisions or recommendations, the words ‘Decision’ or ‘Recommendation’, respectively, shall be inserted in the title of such acts. The Secretariat shall record any decision or recommendation under a serial number and with a reference to the date of its adoption.”

That is almost exactly the same procedure that is used for notifying and recording EU regulations and directives. Despite all of that, this Committee has hardly ever been mentioned in Parliament, and few Ministers have ever referred to it directly throughout the extensive debates we have had during this Session on the whole issue of Brexit. Crucially, the Joint Committee is contained in the treaty, and therefore has the force of international law behind it, but it is outside the backstop, which is perhaps why it has received less attention than other aspects of the withdrawal agreement to date.

I believe that this has been extremely cleverly drafted to hand control of future elements of this country’s destiny deliberately to unelected civil servants, rather than to Ministers—civil servants who are unanswerable to this House of Commons in the way that Minister are. Those involved have thought of everything, as rule 12 of annex VIII is entitled “Expenses”, and it even lays out how they can reclaim their expenses. At present, Parliament seems blissfully unaware of the ability of the Joint Committee to take legally binding decisions relating to any future aspect of the treaty or the future relationship, in effect, above Parliament’s head.

There are clear issues of accountability to Parliament that, as far as I am aware, have never really been debated in the House at all. I ask the Minister to confirm that everything I have said is true, and if any of it is not true, will he point out what and why? If it is true, which it is, will he explain what checks and balances this House has over the operation of the Joint Committee?

Break in Debate

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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20 Mar 2019, 1:42 p.m.

Thank you, Bishop.

In summary, the Joint Committee contained in the draft withdrawal agreement has hardly ever been discussed in the House of Commons or the media, despite the fact that it potentially gives two unelected civil servants the power to make decisions that are binding in international law by an exchange of notes, without the knowledge, let alone the consent, of this House. If we are to approve the withdrawal agreement, we will approve this procedure too, which is why it is so important we should know about it. I believe that these facts must be exposed for debate in this House before the Prime Minister departs for the European Council tomorrow. I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting the urgent question, and I look forward to hearing—I will be intrigued to hear—the Minister’s reply.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:42 p.m.

My right hon. Friend asked me which bits of what he said I agree with, or which bits I thought were true or not true. Clearly, I agree with some of the things he said, and I think some of the things he said were slightly off the mark. The assumption underlying his question, as it seems to me, is that the Joint Committee is some subterranean plot with wire pullers attempting somehow to subvert the will of this House or to subvert our democracy.

My right hon. Friend will understand, as will the House, that the structure of the Joint Committee is very common in international agreements. An international agreement with two parties has to have a point of arbitration, and the Joint Committee, comprising representatives of the UK and the EU—[Interruption.] It is true that it is separate from the arbitration panel, but it will decide and govern the implementation and the application of the withdrawal agreement. This is entirely in keeping with what happens in international treaties. I would also suggest—

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
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20 Mar 2019, 1:43 p.m.

Is anything not true?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 1:42 p.m.

If my right hon. Friend would not insist on heckling me, I would also suggest the key part of all of this is paragraph 3 of article 166, which refers to “mutual consent”. The Joint Committee simply cannot act if the UK does not agree.

On the point about the UK Government’s relationship with this Parliament, there will be full and ample opportunity, as we have provided in the last four months, to debate the provisions or recommendations of the Joint Committee. In this final part of my answer to my right hon. Friend, I would like to stress that my right hon. Friend the Prime Minister herself has spent no fewer than 20 hours at this Dispatch Box in the last four months. There is a full and ample range of debate and discussion.

Matthew Pennycook Portrait Matthew Pennycook (Greenwich and Woolwich) (Lab)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:44 p.m.

Thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting this urgent question. I congratulate the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) on securing it.

The Joint Committee has attracted a significant degree of attention over recent weeks in relation to its role in the operation of the Northern Ireland backstop, but as the right hon. Gentleman made clear, it is important to remember that the Joint Committee and its specialised sub-committees are also responsible for the application and implementation of the entire withdrawal agreement. Under Article 166, paragraph 2, any decisions made by the Joint Committee would have “the same legal effect” as the entire withdrawal agreement. The right hon. Gentleman has done this House a service in providing us with an opportunity to scrutinise more carefully this important part of the agreement and to seek reassurances about the role of Parliament in overseeing its operation.

To that end, may I ask the Minister the following questions relating to the role of this House in scrutinising the work of the Joint Committee, should the deal ever be approved? First, will the Government commit now to making a statement to this House before and after each and every meeting of the Joint Committee, and to make all of its documents available to Members? Secondly, what plans, if any, do the Government have to create a dedicated Committee of the House to oversee the withdrawal agreement, including the Joint Committee? Thirdly, the withdrawal agreement makes it clear that the Joint Committee will be made up of representatives of the United Kingdom and the European Union, so what role do the Government foresee Parliament having in the appointment of the UK representatives? Fourthly, is it the Government’s intention that the UK representatives include individuals from the main political parties, as well as those from the devolved Governments and Assemblies? Finally, specifically in relation to the Northern Ireland protocol, will the Minister confirm that it is the Government’s view that an indefinite application of the backstop would not constitute an unforeseen situation under article 164, paragraph 5(d) in such a way as might provide for amendment of the treaty itself?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 1:47 p.m.

On that list of questions, it would be absolutely customary and right for a Government Minister to make a statement when the Joint Committee had opined or made recommendations. That is absolutely in order. With regard to the hon. Gentleman’s request about a Committee, that is a matter for the House. It is not for the Executive to decide which Committees of this House can or cannot be formed.

We have ample and very full discussions with the devolved Administrations. They will of course be involved in aspects of the Joint Committee’s decisions, particular with regard to the question of Ireland and the backstop. There is no way, and this is carefully documented in the withdrawal agreement itself, that the Joint Committee would be making statements or recommendations about the backstop or any other matters relating to Ireland without, on our part, some representation and involvement of the Northern Ireland Government. On that question, I can assure the hon. Gentleman that there will be ample consultation and involvement of the Northern Ireland Assembly.

Iain Duncan Smith Portrait Mr Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 1:47 p.m.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) on securing this urgent question, and you, Mr Speaker, on granting it. May I simply ask my hon. Friend on the Front Bench about a particular point that was made by my right hon. Friend and the Opposition spokesman? With regard to “situations unforeseen” when this agreement was signed, who decides what is unforeseen?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:48 p.m.

On that specific question, the Joint Committee will have a role in suggesting what has not been foreseen. This is a very hypothetical question. What I find so extraordinary in this whole episode is that all of this is contingent on the withdrawal agreement being passed, yet my right hon. Friends who are asking these questions have consistently voted against the agreement. It seems very bizarre to me—[Interruption.] No, the point is that there is no way, as the question from my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford suggested or seemed to imply, that this is some sort of mystical plot, as I have said, to undermine the democratic processes of this House. The Joint Committee will not be doing that. The British Government will be in wide consultation with the House, there will be ample room for debate and everything will be done with the utmost transparency.

Peter Grant Portrait Peter Grant (Glenrothes) (SNP)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:49 p.m.

I commend the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) for submitting this question. I share some of his concerns, although after listening to his horror story about all the evils in the way this Joint Committee will operate, I have to say that 90% of it applies to the workings of the British Cabinet and 99% of it applies to the way international trade deals will be negotiated on our behalf without our knowledge or consent in the great new world that he seeks to achieve after Brexit.

On accountability and openness, I appreciate that parts of the agreement would insist on confidentiality in some circumstances, but will the Minister give an assurance that the UK Government will publish and lay before Parliament as much about the workings of the Committee as is permitted under the agreement as soon as possible?

Everyone now knows that it was a mistake to exclude the devolved Administrations and other people with potential skills from the Brexit negotiations. Everyone knows that it was a mistake not to ask for views and support from across the House much earlier in the process. Will the Minister therefore answer the question that he did not answer when the hon. Member for Greenwich and Woolwich (Matthew Pennycook) asked it, and give an undertaking that the UK delegation to this vital and exceptionally powerful Committee will properly reflect the political and social diversity of these nations? Will he also undertake that, particularly when it is looking at items within the devolved competences of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, the Governments of those nations will be properly represented as part of the negotiating team and not simply left in a side meeting to be told what has been decided on our behalf afterwards?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 1:50 p.m.

I want to clarify that there is no scope within the Joint Committee for some form of delegation or negotiating team. Its sole function is to ensure that the terms of the withdrawal agreement are complied with.

As my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) so ably enunciated, all the workings of the Committee are to be found in Annex VIII of the agreement. The annex is some 20 to 25 pages long and very carefully sets out how the Committee will work.

John Redwood Portrait John Redwood (Wokingham) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:51 p.m.

Why do the Government think it acceptable that any legal dispute about European law will be resolved by a decision of the European Court of Justice—a court for one of the two parties to the agreement—given that practically every legal dispute would be about a matter of European law, because both parties would still be under comprehensive European law?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:52 p.m.

There are two stages to the process. Clearly, there is the period after the end of the implementation period when the CJEU will decide matters of EU law. During the implementation period, as my right hon. Friend knows, it will be as if we were a member state—that is what the implementation period means. As my right hon. Friend suggested, within the implementation period, matters of EU law will be decided by the CJEU. After that, its powers are restricted only to matters of EU law, which we would be outside. That is the position as clearly set out in the withdrawal agreement.

Chris Bryant Portrait Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:52 p.m.

I do not know about you, Mr Speaker, but it feels to me that this sorry saga proves that the Conservative party is now entirely run by the European Research Group. It puts me in mind of a limerick, which was much repeated in the 1930s:

“There was a young lady of Riga,

Who went for a ride on a tiger.

They came back from the ride

With the lady inside

And a smile on the face of the tiger.”

The Prime Minister has tried to ride the ERG tiger for all this time and frankly, she is now inside it, isn’t she?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 1:53 p.m.

I assure the hon. Gentleman that I have not been consumed by a tiger and I am still smiling. If we get the deal through the House—I look forward to his support in that—we will leave the EU and be able to move forward, I hope, in a progressive and measured way. However, I thank him for his poetic interjection.

Theresa Villiers Portrait Theresa Villiers (Chipping Barnet) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 1:54 p.m.

I take the Minister’s points about this structure being used in several contexts in international treaties. Many of my constituents would say that it was still unacceptable, and that they would like more transparency. However, even assuming that the structure is acceptable in the context of some international treaties, what is my hon. Friend’s response to the comment that the treaty would be uniquely powerful, were it to be adopted, because it would involve this country and this House being subject to laws made for us by other people, over which we had no say?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:54 p.m.

I do not accept the premise of my right hon. Friend’s question. Clearly, our relationship with the EU over decades was complicated and involved and the withdrawal agreement is a capable way of getting out. Few of its provisions last beyond the end of the implementation period. It is a clear and orderly way of leaving the EU, and I urge hon. Members, including my right hon. Friends behind me, to support it.

Tom Brake (Carshalton and Wallington) (LD)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:55 p.m.

Will the Minister explain precisely, for the benefit of Members on both sides of the House, what input Members will have in advance of any meetings of the Joint Committee?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:55 p.m.

As I have said to the House, there will be ample scope for debate and consultation. The Government fully understand that the House has to have an active role in shaping and deciding what our position as a country will be. I stress once again that paragraph 3 of article 166 says that no recommendations or decisions can be made without mutual consent. The mutual consent is between the UK and the EU, but as far as the Government are concerned, part of that mutual consent means engaging fully and transparently with the House.

Owen Paterson Portrait Mr Owen Paterson (North Shropshire) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 1:55 p.m.

I congratulate my right hon. Friend the Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) on applying for this urgent question and I thank you, Mr Speaker, for granting it.

Ever since the very first Parliaments in Shropshire, the primary function of this House has been to control the manner in which money is levied from taxpayers and the way in which it is spent. I was astounded when I turned up on day one in the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, where I had the honour of being Secretary of State, to discover the level of disallowance—that is an EU expression for “fine”. For example, Amyas Morse, the Comptroller and Auditor General, said of the 2016 accounts that

“the total value of cumulative disallowance penalties incurred under CAP 2007-13 is £661 million”,

which amounts to more than £90 million a year. I therefore view with some horror article 171, which states:

“The Joint Committee shall, no later than by the end of the transition period, establish…an arbitration panel.”

Article 178 states that the arbitration panel

“may impose a lump sum or penalty payment to be paid to the complainant.”

What are the limits on the size of those payments? If the House of Commons objects, what can it do?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 1:57 p.m.

I am afraid that my right hon. Friend has too little faith in the UK Government. We have repeatedly said—and he knows this as well as anyone—that such payments or penalties would be imposed only by mutual consent. That is the key element. There is no way that the Joint Committee can unilaterally impose fines on us that we have not agreed to.

Mark Francois Portrait Mr Francois
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 1:57 p.m.

That is not correct. That is wrong.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

Thank you. I stress that we have been very successful in restricting payments when we needed to. There is no reason to suppose that the Committee will impose swingeing penalties that we will be forced to pay without our consent.

Joanna Cherry Portrait Joanna Cherry (Edinburgh South West) (SNP)
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20 Mar 2019, 1:58 p.m.

As has already been drawn to the Minister’s attention, under article 174, if the arbitration panel above the Joint Committee cannot agree on a matter of law, it has to be referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union. Does not that confirm that the Prime Minister has been prepared to relax at least one of her red lines to enable binding rulings from the CJEU to be accepted after we have left the EU? Does not that show that it is possible for her to relax other red lines to try to get us out of the mess that we are currently in?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Hansard - -

I disagree with the hon. and learned Lady. The terms of the withdrawal agreement relate largely to the implementation period. I remind the House that during the implementation period, we will technically be a member state. [Interruption.] During the implementation period, that is the case. After that, the CJEU will have some role in interpreting EU law, but we will be outside its jurisdiction.

Steve Baker Portrait Mr Steve Baker (Wycombe) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Further to the question asked by my right hon. Friend the Member for North Shropshire (Mr Paterson), and since we are treating of matters that are both controversial and complex, may I invite my hon. Friend to commit today—since he must, if he is going to do it—to lay letters and other papers in the House of Commons Library by the rise of the House tomorrow, setting out what the Government know the Committee shall be able to do and shall not be able to do, and the authority for that statement, so that we can all be perfectly clear on the scope and authority of the Committee, and the Government’s view?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

The scope, the rules, the jurisdiction, if you like, and the powers of the Joint Committee are very ably set out in the withdrawal agreement. I suggest that my hon. Friend peruses those once again.

Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

I thank the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) for securing the question and for the concern that he shows for unelected bureaucrats because, of course, we sit in a Parliament where more than half of parliamentarians are unelected bureaucrats. Will the Minister possibly tell us what role the fully elected European Parliament will play in this Committee?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

It is obviously up to them to decide how they would conduct matters with respect to their delegates in the Joint Committee.

Bernard Jenkin Portrait Sir Bernard Jenkin (Harwich and North Essex) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

May I return to the question raised by my right hon. Friend the Member for Chipping Barnet (Theresa Villiers) to contest my hon. Friend the Minister’s rather doubtful assertion that this is normal for an international treaty? I do not know of any other international treaty where one of the signing parties is submitting to a law-making power by the other, the laws will be made in a Joint Committee that can sit in secret, and any matters of dispute will be referred to the court of the other party. Can he give any examples of an international treaty of this nature where those arrangements exist, and where the laws being made are directly applicable and have direct effect in the domestic law of only one of the states?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

What I would say to my hon. Friend in respect of his question is that we were in the EU for 46 years. During that time we were absolutely and totally 100% under the jurisdiction of the EU. The withdrawal agreement essentially seeks to get a tunnel, or a pipe, away from that jurisdiction into a situation where we have left the EU absolutely. Now, my own understanding is that this is a wholly unique set of circumstances. In that respect, the withdrawal agreement seeks to be transitional—it is trying to get from state a to state b—so it is understandable that we will not be able to get immediate freedom, if that is how he would put it, but the withdrawal agreement substantially gets us from one state to another. If it is endorsed, I think we will be able to proceed in an orderly way out of the EU.

Martin Whitfield (East Lothian) (Lab)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

The Minister speaks about mutual consent, but where there is mutual consent there are never any problems. The problems come when that consent breaks down. With the Joint Committee, is it not correct that, surely, where mutuality of consent breaks down the final arbiter will be the European Court of Justice, irrespective of why the arguments arise?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

That refers to circumstances that relate to EU law. There will be other points of dispute that do not involve EU law. It is clear that after the end of the implementation period the Court’s jurisdiction will be restricted.

Mr Speaker
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

There is nothing disorderly, but I must say that I am saddened to see the hon. Member for North East Somerset (Mr Rees-Mogg) holding, until he just put it away in his pocket, his mobile telephone. I have long been conscious that the hon. Member possesses, and indeed uses, such a mobile phone. However, it does conflict very, very, very heavily with my image of the hon. Gentleman as the embodiment of tradition and as someone who thinks that the 17th century is indecently recent.

Jacob Rees-Mogg Portrait Mr Jacob Rees-Mogg (North East Somerset) (Con)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Regrettably, I was explaining why I was delayed for a 2 o’clock appointment—so that I would have the pleasure of being in the Chamber to listen to this important urgent question. My apologies for being unduly modern. I hope, Mr Speaker, you will follow in my footsteps of antiquity as a general rule.

To come to the gist of the question, I wonder whether it is correct that the Joint Committee will be subject to article 4 of the treaty, which means that any rulings it provides are senior law in the United Kingdom and therefore could overwrite statute law—making Henry VIII powers, which have been a matter of some controversy in this House, seem relatively minor?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
- Parliament Live - Hansard - -

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Obviously, this is a rather circular point. Article 4 is the conduit pipe, if you like, through which the provisions of the withdrawal agreement would come into UK law. The point of the Joint Committee is to look at the implementation of the withdrawal Act. There really should not be a conflict between article 4 and the Joint Committee. As I say, if there is a dispute, that would have to be resolved within the Joint Committee. As far as the British Government are concerned, there will be ample consultation, debate and questions in this House.

Stewart Malcolm McDonald Portrait Stewart Malcolm McDonald (Glasgow South) (SNP)
- Parliament Live - Hansard - - - Excerpts

20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Scrutiny is always welcome, but I have to say that I believe this urgent question is driven less by urgency and more by a desire on behalf of the right hon. Member for Rayleigh and Wickford (Mr Francois) to continue his deeply unattractive and frankly tin pot tyrant-like attacks on civil servants. Will the Minister deprecate those attacks on civil servants? Will he clarify, in terms of the oversight of the Committee, what the enhanced role for the devolved nations, which the Prime Minister promised at the Dispatch Box just a few weeks ago, looks like?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

On the hon. Gentleman’s first point, I would like to put it on the record that we have an extremely fine and professional body of civil servants. I think that that is undisputed in this House. On the second point, as I have said on a number of occasions, we hope and expect to have full involvement and engagement with the devolved Administrations.

David Jones Portrait Mr David Jones (Clwyd West) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

Annex VIII of the withdrawal agreement provides that the Joint Committee will be co-chaired by a member of the European Commission and a Minister of the British Government or, alternately, a “high level official”. Given the hugely important role that this Committee will play in the governance of this country, does not my hon. Friend agree that, as far as the British side is concerned, the chairman or chairwomen should always be a Minister rather than an official, so that he or she is answerable to this House? Is he prepared to give an undertaking to this House today that that will always be the case—if, of course, the withdrawal agreement is ever concluded?

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

It is absolutely the intention of this Government to have ministerial responsibility, ministerial attendance, at meetings of the Joint Committee. We fully envisage that that will be the case.

Andrew Bridgen Portrait Andrew Bridgen (North West Leicestershire) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 2 p.m.

May I press my hon. Friend the Minister further on his earlier answer to my right hon. Friend the Member for Chingford and Woodford Green (Mr Duncan Smith)? The Joint Committee will make legal decisions in unforeseen circumstances. [Interruption.] Can he confirm that the Joint Committee will itself decide what circumstances are unforeseen? [Interruption.]

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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Once again I have to say that I think all my colleagues, all my right hon. and hon. Friends, have very full confidence in our civil service. With regard to my hon. Friend’s question, yes, the Joint Committee will decide, and will have a view on what circumstances are foreseen or unforeseen, but I have to address this point: the Joint Committee’s purpose is not to hoodwink or in any way subvert what we do as a democracy in this House. It is the Government’s full intention to engage extremely attentively to opinion in this House.

Desmond Swayne Portrait Sir Desmond Swayne (New Forest West) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 2:10 p.m.

Can I be on it? For a fresh approach—and I won’t bang on.

Kwasi Kwarteng Portrait Kwasi Kwarteng
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I admire my right hon. Friend’s brevity and succinctness.

Mr Speaker
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20 Mar 2019, 2:09 p.m.

I am sure that the right hon. Member for New Forest West (Sir Desmond Swayne) will regard it as the encomium of all encomiums to have tribute paid to him by the junior Minister; he may well feel so uplifted by the tribute that he wishes to have it framed. However, I say gently to the Minister that his tribute suffers from one notable disadvantage: despite its generosity, it offered no answer to the question.

Laurence Robertson Portrait Mr Laurence Robertson (Tewkesbury) (Con)
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20 Mar 2019, 2:10 p.m.

The Minister has referred several times to the devolved Administrations, but he will be aware that the Northern Ireland Assembly has not sat for over two years, so how does he think the Joint Committee will take note of the thoughts coming from the Province on what is, of course, one of the big issues of the whole agreement?