Iain Duncan Smith questions PM about the UK achieving a bespoke trade agreement with the EU

18th December 2017

Following the Prime Minister’s statement on last week’s European Council meeting, Iain Duncan Smith questions the PM on statements made by the EU’s Chief Negotiator about the UK achieving a bespoke trade agreement.

I agree with my right hon. Friend that attacks on MPs’ family members, particularly in vulnerable conditions, should be absolutely outlawed from the very beginning.

May I ask my right hon. Friend whether she has read Mr Barnier’s statement—made in the last couple of days—in which he set out the EU’s position in the run-up to the next two phases of discussion? Can she confirm that the Government have neither discussed that nor agreed it, and that therefore it is not Government policy?

I had noticed Michel Barnier’s comments, particularly in relation to the negotiations on the trade deal. We will start the negotiations on that as a result of the decision taken last Friday by the European Union Council. I can tell my right hon. Friend that one of the senior members of the negotiating team has today made it clear that the United Kingdom can indeed have its own bespoke agreement for a future trade relationship with the European Union. Indeed, that point was also made by the Prime Minister of Italy, Paolo Gentiloni, in an article he wrote in the Financial Times last week. If anybody cares to think about it, every trade agreement is a bespoke agreement between the parties concerned—they have similar elements, but are specific to the various countries concerned. That is certainly what we will be looking for in our negotiations with the EU.

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