Greg quizzes the PM following reports of hostile comments from European Commission officials

14th January 2019

Greg Hands (MP for Chelsea and Fulham): The Prime Minister will have read the comments from leading European Commission officials at the very highest levels about the withdrawal agreement since it was finalised. Sabine Weyand, Michel Barnier’s deputy, has said: “This requires the Customs Union as the basis for the future relationship”.

She has also said: “They must align their rules, but the EU will retain all the controls”.

Finally, she said: “The EU retains its leverage”.

Martin Selmayr, the secretary-general of the Commission, has said: “The power is with us”.

He also told the Passauer Neue Presse on 7 December that the agreement showed that “leaving the EU…doesn’t work”.

Those in Brussels clearly believe it is a great deal for them. Why is the Prime Minister seemingly equally enthusiastic in thinking this is a great deal for the UK?
The Prime Minister: I know that a number of Members were concerned about the phraseology in the political declaration around the future relationship in relation to customs and about building on the protocol and the assumption that therefore what was in the protocol would effectively have to be taken forward into that future relationship. In fact, the letters we have received today from the EU make it clear that that is not the case. My right hon. Friend asks why I believe this is a good deal. I believe it is a good deal because, as I have said previously, it delivers on the vote of the referendum—control of money, borders and laws; out of the common fisheries policy and common agricultural policy; the ​ability to have an independent trade policy—and enables us to do so in a way that protects jobs and security and gives certainty to businesses.