My statement on the Chequers announcement and the situation as it stands:
Our Prime Minister has an extremely tough job at an historic time for our country; it’s not easy, it’s very complex. I support the Prime Minister and I will continue to support the Prime Minister, and I must highlight that she has shown extraordinary resilience and stamina.
Of course, I have concerns about aspects of the Chequers agreement, especially the common rulebook and how it would work in practice; and I look forward to the detail that I am expecting to read in the White Paper when it is published next week.
I support a pragmatic, realistic approach to Brexit. It must be orderly and designed with livelihoods, jobs and families, very much to the fore. The importance of this agreement is that we now have a proposal which deals with the practical issues that must be dealt with as we leave the EU, namely, customs arrangements, the flow of trade, mobility of labour, the Irish border, etc.
The Chequers agreement should represent, in principle, the UK’s final generous offer to the EU. The initial response of the EU has been positive and we now need the negotiations to move ahead at speed; there is an urgent need to secure an agreement which will set out how the future relationship between the UK and the EU will work in practise.
At the same time, it is vitally important that the UK government now steps up its preparation for all eventualities including the WTO option or so-called no-deal scenario; and while this is the outcome I least want to see, it is vitally important that all necessary preparations are in hand and we are at the highest state of readiness as we leave the EU.
For me, Brexit has always been about outcomes and the outcomes that matter most to me are -
⁃ That we can continue to trade with the EU on as frictionless a basis as possible.
⁃ That we continue to work closely with our European neighbours in areas of mutual concern and benefit, such as security and intelligence, foreign policy and defence, continuing to contribute to pan-European agencies and other bodies which set global standards, scientific research and development, academic and student exchange, culture, and so forth.
⁃ That we can act as an independent trading country, having our own seat at the WTO and striking our own free trade deals around the world, with the United Kingdom championing free and fair trade and a rules-based approach to global trade.
In short, I subscribe to the Prime Minister’s 12 principles approach.