Statement on the UK Internal Market Bill

On Monday I supported the government’s UK Internal Market Bill. Much of the debate around the Bill has centred around our country’s commitments to treaty obligations and international law. I understand many people’s concerns on this matter, however local residents can have confidence that I, and my ministerial colleagues, are fully committed to the rule of law as determined by our democratically elected Parliament.

Despite much of the speculation in recent days, the Bill is fundamentally concerned with protecting the integrity of all the nations of the United Kingdom and maintaining unfettered trading access within our Union.

I firmly believe that the prosperity of the entire United Kingdom is dependent on the ability of all counties within the UK to trade freely both within the UK and with nations across the world. Jobs and livelihoods here in Rugby and Bulkington, and across the whole of the UK, depend upon the free trade within our internal market and it is right that the government is taking steps to protect this through this Bill. The provisions within the Bill create a safety net for the UK which enables the government to protect the Union and ensure that our obligations under the Belfast Agreement are met. These commitments were central to the Conservative manifesto at the 2019 General Election, which secured an 80-seat majority in Parliament and the overwhelming support of the country.

I very much regret that the EU has brought forward an interpretation of elements of the Withdrawal Agreement which would compromise our internal market by assuming that all goods destined for Northern Ireland could potentially make their way to the Republic of Ireland and thus into the EU. Lord Frost, who is leading the UK’s negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement with the EU, has drawn the Government’s attention to this and I support the government’s limited and proportionate efforts to remove that risk.

As local residents will know, I have been steadfast in my support for implementing the result of the 2016 EU referendum, but that I also strongly believe that a free trade deal between the UK and the EU is in the interests of both parties. Opening the debate on the Bill, the Prime Minister reiterated his commitment to securing this deal. A free trade deal between the UK and the EU is of vital importance to many local businesses here in Rugby and Bulkington, and the wider West Midland and in particular to those businesses within the manufacturing and automotive sectors. Trade negotiations remain ongoing and I am confident that we will reach a deal with the EU, which will be in all of our interests. This will in turn secure jobs here and in the weeks ahead I will continue to do all that I can to ensure we reach a trade agreement with the EU whilst at the same time protecting the integrity of our Union.