Conservative MP Graham Stuart hit out at the SNP’s Neale Hanvey for claiming that the Government must urgently review the impact of Brexit as trade talks have not progressed. He claimed that trade with the European Union is worth more than that with other countries. But Mr Stuart explained the EU has not signed a free trade agreement with the world’s largest economies.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Mr Hanvey said: “Japan accounts for around two percent of the UK’s total exports.
“The EU is worth over 20 times that amount and already has that trade deal with Japan.
“With many talks stalling, the UK is on track for a slew of bad deals or simply no deal at all.
“Is it not now time given the Government’s summer of U-turns on the COVID crisis to admit their Brexit bluff has been called and now urgently review this in light of the impact of the disruption to trade, jobs, livelihoods and the UK’s COVID recovery will have.
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Mr Stuart responded: “I don’t know who wrote the honourable gentleman’s question but it’s quite clear they’re hanging on desperately to the idea that there should be a failure.
“Overwhelmingly the continuity agreements have been rolled over, the opportunities are there to go further and have a more ambitious programme as well as to set new standards with Australia, New Zealand and the United States.
“It’s noticeable that in all the years that the EU has been in charge of our trade policy, it has never signed a deal.
“It’s never signed an FTA with the world’s largest economy let alone the next largest economies in the world.
Announcing her legislative agenda, she said suppressing COVID-19 is “our most immediate priority – and it will remain so for some time”, but her Government would use the disruption of the pandemic to “rethink how we do things”.
Meanwhile, Labour’s Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said the proposed draft Referendum Bill was a “reckless announcement” which shows the First Minister’s “top priority is to divide the people of Scotland”.
The Labour MP said: “All her focus should be on post-COVID recovery, not returning to the old politics of division that will harm Scotland’s society and economy.
“Re-opening the constitutional debate will do nothing to help our NHS recover from the pandemic, or help the children who have lost months of education, or help grow our economy.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said that the announcement of a new Bill on Scottish independence “got the loudest applause of the afternoon” from SNP MSPs, adding: “That tells you all about their priorities.”