19 October 2020
Sir Iain Duncan Smith questions Government on EU trade negotiations

Sir Iain Duncan Smith condemns the EU for failing to negotiate ‘in good faith’ and asks how the Government will approach the outstanding problems in the withdrawal agreement in the event of no trade deal.

Sir Iain Duncan Smith (Chingford and Woodford Green) (Con)

I thank my right hon. Friend for his statement. I think he is right, because it was clear in the whole agreement that both sides needed to negotiate in good faith with a view to reaching an agreement. Yet it has been quite clear throughout that, for example, the refusal of those on the EU side to engage on financial services, which are 80% of our economy, but their determination to get a deal on the majority of theirs, which is trade in agri-products, is not good faith. How exactly does he intend to go forward with regard to the problems in the withdrawal agreement that will now be outstanding even if we make no trade deal?

Michael Gove

My right hon. Friend makes two very important points, the first of which relates to the approach that the European Union has taken. As I mentioned, even while I have been at the Dispatch Box it has been reported that there has been a constructive move on the part of the European Union, and I welcome that. Obviously we need to make sure that we work on the basis of the proposed intensification that it proposes. I prefer to look forward in optimism rather than necessarily to look back in anger. However, as he says, the difficult period that we have had over the past two weeks has been the result of some on the EU side not being as energetic as we have been in trying to reach agreement. He also makes an important point about making sure that we iron out all the difficulties in the withdrawal agreement. That is part of my role in the Joint Committee. I am grateful to him and to others for the advice they have offered as to how we should approach these difficult issues.