Withdrawal Agreement: Legal Opinion DebateFull Debate: Read Full Debate
Mr Steve BakerMain Page: Mr Steve Baker (Conservative) - Wycombe)
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The hon. Lady can shake her head, but she has to look at the wording—at the text. If I have got something wrong, she will no doubt tell me, but the fact is that there are materially new obligations here in relation to the pace and timetable, and in relation to binding legal commitments on alternative arrangements. These set the context against which and within which the duties in respect of bad faith and best endeavours will be measured. That is a significant difference to the deal.
I simply say to my hon. Friend that I really do not believe so. Why not? Because the commitments now cemented on alternative arrangements, which require a separate negotiating track, with a timetable to negotiate them, are now built in so that, as I have said in my written opinion, it would be extraordinary if the EU declined to adopt any such measures. It would be extraordinary, so I do not accept that the backstop is the base for any future arrangement. Let me give another reason why it is not. Built into the political declaration is an independent free trade policy, and we cannot have an independent free trade policy and have a customs union. Also built into it is no free movement. Does the Labour party support free movement now? It speaks with all sorts of voices. But the political declaration says there is none, and we cannot belong to the single market without free movement. So I say to my hon. Friend that I understand where these fears come from, but we must be bold and courageous, and we must move forward, for the sake of our country.