Full text of Henry Smith MP's speech in the House of Commons Opposition Day Debate on future UK-EU customs arrangements on 16th May 2018.
Henry Smith (Crawley) (Con): I am very grateful to you, Mr Speaker, for affording me a few moments to contribute to the debate.
We have just heard from the hon. Member for Birmingham, Erdington (Jack Dromey) that Brexiteers are somehow wide-eyed. I am blessed in Crawley, because my constituents are very sensible in their approach. Some 58% of them voted in June 2016 to leave the European Union, with the clear message that we would be leaving the customs union and the single market as well. My constituents are wide-eyed with the possibilities of global Britain and no longer being tied to the EU’s single market and customs union.
This country has a fantastic global heritage and more unique international links than any other country in the world. We are perfectly placed to be a bridge between the rest of the world and Europe, given our proximity and using the relations that we have. I think that is why a majority of the people of Crawley voted to leave the European Union. They are not insular in the way they view the world. They are employed by international companies located in my constituency—from Gatwick airport to medical technology companies, financial services companies and many others—and they see the global possibilities of free trade. We cannot realise those global free trade opportunities if we remain locked inside the customs union. We can only negotiate international deals with the Commonwealth and with many countries around the world, including the United States, if we are outside the customs union and if we achieve a comprehensive trade agreement with the European Union.
We are talking about negotiations, and I know of no business that would reveal its negotiating hand when seeking to make an agreement; I certainly did not when I ran a business. I know of no other country that would reveal its negotiating strategy in international forums. So that the official Opposition can relate to this, I add that I know of no trade union that would reveal its negotiating hand ahead of seeking a deal on behalf of its members. This motion is a nonsense, and we should vote it down this evening.