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Mike Gapes: "I pledge to fight this hard Brexit and I will do so throughout this Parliament."

Mike Gapes MP (Ilford South) contributed to the Queen's Speech debate held on Monday 26th June 2017. Below are his exchanges:

Mike Gapes (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): The Secretary of State said that countries outside the European Union would not be directly within the remit of the European Court of Justice, but several countries outside the EU indirectly have arrangements with the European Union whereby the European Court of Justice or an equivalent body is established. Is that what the Secretary of State is aiming for?

David Davis (The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union): No. What the hon. Gentleman is describing is something like the Court of Justice of the European Free Trade Association States—the EFTA court—where there is a parallelism. That is not the aim. The aim is to have an independent arbitration arrangement, as is normal. For instance, the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement does exactly that. It has nominees from either side, and an independent chair. That is the sort of thing that we have in mind.

Mike Gapes (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): Does the shadow Secretary of State agree that the best way to get the benefits of the single market is by staying in it? [Interruption.]

Keir Starmer (Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union): Our manifesto was absolutely clear about retaining the benefits of the single market and the customs union. As for membership, although almost everybody who wants a progressive new relationship with the EU wants to retain the benefits of the single market and the customs union, almost everybody accepts that that cannot be done in an unreformed way, because of the rules of the single market as they now are. The question of whether we start from reform of the single market or from a bare agreement and then work up is secondary to the outcome we want to achieve. The outcome we want to achieve is: no tariffs for goods going across from us to the EU, and vice-versa; no new red tape at customs, including rules of origin; and a deal that works for services as well as for goods.

We have to recognise the concerns of the EU, and two in particular. First, the main concern is that if we are released from all obligations of a regulatory nature in relation to moving goods and services across Europe, we will be able to undercut EU countries economically. Secondly, if we strike free trade agreements that are released from any of the standards and regulations that they apply, there is the prospect of flooding the UK with goods and products from other countries which do not meet those standards and/or go into Europe. Those are the issues we need to negotiate.

I want to deal with this point, because I know it is an issue of real concern to my party. We have said that the outcomes are what matter, not the model for achieving them.

Mike Gapes (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): It is a pleasure to follow Andrew Rosindell, who ended on the subject of Gibraltar. I am glad that he did so, because I want to highlight the fact that there is a major problem with not only Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic but with what will happen to Gibraltar. It is quite possible that there will be a real problem getting any agreement because of disagreement with Spain over Gibraltar. The Government of Gibraltar interpret clause 24 of the guideline document produced by President Donald Tusk of the European Council as potentially leaving their position uncertain and unsettled after any deal. The question will be whether the British Government are prepared, in order to get an agreement, to sell out Gibraltar and its interests, or, if they do get an agreement, whether it will be worth anything after we have left the EU, when we will no longer be able, within the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament, or through other measures, to protect the interests of Gibraltar, and when there will be a member state in the EU that has another agenda. Similar issues would apply elsewhere, but Gibraltar is a fundamental sticking point and problem in these negotiations. The Foreign Secretary and the British Government need to come clean and state publicly what their position will be.

We have heard reference to the state visit by the King of Spain. There was of course no reference to the state visit of President Trump. I draw attention to the early-day motion that my hon. Friend Stephen Doughty and I, and others, tabled on this issue. The British Government, if they are serious about being honest and open, should say now whether the hand-holding is over, and whether President Trump will be welcomed here this year as was originally intended or his visit is put off indefinitely. The former Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Crispin Blunt, said that it should perhaps take place in 2020. I suggest that it would best take place after the presidential election in which Donald Trump’s successor has been elected, during the period in November to December before the inauguration of his successor.

Crispin Blunt (Conservative, Reigate):

Mike Gapes (Labour/Co-operative, Ilford South): In the interests of others, it is not fair that I take an intervention.

As other Members have said, there is a fundamental problem in the Government’s approach: our country will be poorer, weaker and less influential on the world stage if we leave the European Union. We have seen, in the past few days, a vote at the General Assembly of the United Nations relating to the Chagos islands and Mauritius where EU countries did not line up alongside the UK. That is pretty unprecedented. Usually, EU countries work collectively in the General Assembly to defend each other’s interests. That did not happen and we will see a lot more of that in the future. I pledge to fight this hard Brexit and I will do so throughout this Parliament.

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