Shailesh Vara rejects scaremongering about trading on WTO rules

9th January 2019

Shailesh Vara rejects scaremongering about trading on WTO rules and quotes the president of the Port of Calais who said that there will not be queues at Dover.

With reference to the possibility of trading on WTO rules, does my right hon. Friend agree with what was said this morning on the “Today” programme by the president of the Port of Calais, Jean-Marc Puissesseau, when he said:

“The trucks will be passing as they are doing today…there will not be a queue in Dover because there will not be control, so where is the problem?”?

Does my right hon. Friend agree that rather than scaremongering from the comfort of these green Benches, we should take note of the person who is actually in charge of the Port of Calais and who knows what he is talking about?

My hon. Friend raises an important point. Of course those representing a port will want to talk up the benefits of that port. The issue will be what legal obligations apply, not just what commercially they would want to do. I think he was talking more in terms of what flows into the UK than necessarily what is flowing back into France. In my remarks in response to my right hon. Friend the Member for Wokingham (John Redwood), I referred to the fact that we have a political debate that tends to focus very heavily on goods, yet we have an economy that is predicated on services. On issues such as data and professional qualifications, there are many other issues that would not be addressed in a WTO scenario. That is the issue. Many Members are raising various different deals to which they feel most closely aligned, but the issue is that those deals would all require a withdrawal agreement and they would all need to address, as the EU has made clear, issues such as citizens, the financial settlement and a backstop, which is needed as a safeguard. It is not enough for the House to say what it is against; we have to say what is the deal, with a withdrawal agreement and a backstop, that we in this House can unite behind.