Thank you for contacting me regarding the UK Internal Markets Bill, which is seeing its Second Reading in the House of Commons this afternoon.
I realise that this Bill raises some contentious issues. Passing an act of parliament and going on to break an international treaty obligation should be a last resort for any Government. However, we also need to be mindful of the bigger picture, in that our country is in a vital negotiation to get a trade deal with the EU. The passage of this Bill through Parliament is as much about putting Britain in the strongest possible negotiating position and if a trade deal is secured with the EU many of its provisions will become unnecessary.
Therefore, on balance and at this stage in Parliamentary proceedings, I am cautiously supportive of the UK Internal Markets Bill and intend to vote in favour of its passing at second reading today.
I am reassured to read that the UK Internal Markets Bill works on the principle of mutual recognition rather than creating a single UK rule book. Therefore, this would allow for goods that are able to be sold in England to also be sold in Scotland, for example, although devolved administrations may ban different practices, they will not be able to ban the sale of these goods from other parts of the UK. Thus, creating a single UK market whilst allowing some level of autonomy for the devolved nations. Pleasingly, this is also backed up by ‘non-discrimination’ clauses in sections 5, 6, 7 & 8 covering both direct and indirect discrimination.
I have been concerned that, in absence of the further agreement to supersede the Northern Ireland Protocol and the absence of progress on in the Joint Committee there is the real prospect of significant and costly barriers being set up in the Irish Sea. The EU would, therefore, have the ability to exert significant economic damage on Northern Ireland and its ability to trade with Great Britain. It is reassuring that the UK Internal Markets Bill creates a number of Ministerial powers to bring forward delegated legislation that would supersede some parts of the Protocol and Withdrawal Act that put it into UK law, although this should be read alongside the contextual points noted above.
Ultimately, I am supportive of the Government pursuing the best possible deal to leave the EU allowing us to get Brexit done in a timely and constructive manner.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me on this important issue.