Article 50

Nick's Intervention in the Secretary of State's Statement


Nick Herbert (Arundel and South Downs) (Con)

Since we clearly must respect the decision of the British people, and since it is also clear that the majority of Members of this House, including me, would vote to trigger article 50, surely the real question is the substantive one about what kind of Brexit will be pursued. Why is it that the former Government were able to set out a White Paper on their objectives ahead of the Lisbon treaty negotiations, but that this Government are saying that they will not set out a similar document in respect of these much more important negotiations?


Mr Davis (The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)

I guess I was the part-author of the White Paper ahead of the Amsterdam treaty, and our aims were put only in very broad terms. In those terms, we already have our broad aims. They are very plain: control of laws, control of borders, maintenance of our security and the maximum possible access to free markets, both in Europe and elsewhere. Those are the broad aims. In terms of detail, I have just been asked about the customs union. As I have said, when we get to the point of being sure of where we are going on that—[Interruption.] I am glad that Labour Members are all very sure about that, since they do not seem to have looked at any of the numbers at all. The national interest requires that we make sure what the outcome is before we attempt to achieve it. That is a very small negotiating lesson.

 I do not think that I want to commit at this point, but let me say this. I have said over and over again in this process that we will be as open as possible, consistent with maintaining our negotiating stance. I mean that. I have stood up for that principle through decades in this Parliament, and I will not stop standing up for it just because I am standing here.


You can read the full debate here:

Nick Herbert