Speaking in a debate on Brexit and global trade, Iain Duncan Smith says World Trade Organisation celebrates the re-arrival of the UK as a voting member as “the UK is the single biggest exponent of free trade”.
It is not just us making this case. In the discussions with those who are involved in the World Trade Organisation—even though we are a member, we want to get back our voting rights—they have made it pretty clear that they celebrate the re-arrival of the UK as a voting member of the WTO for one vital reason: they feel that globally it has begun to stall and the UK is the single biggest exponent of free trade. It always has been, and they want to welcome us back for that reason alone, if nothing else.
My right hon. Friend is absolutely right. It is important that we can show our trading partners globally that whatever our differences in the mechanics through which we go about the task, there is an overwhelming belief in the concept of free trade in this country. As I said at the outset, the global trading environment needs someone to champion free trade at a time when many countries feel that we are rolling backwards, away from the progress that we have made. If we as a country can speak with a strong voice about the principles of free trade, citing examples from history as to why it has benefited some of the poorest people in the world, we will make a moral as well as an economic case.
The hon. Gentleman is busy asking the Government what their position is. We have set that out very clearly: out of the single market, out of the customs union, and making trade deals. As he speaks for the Opposition, perhaps he can now clarify what their position is. After the election, having fought on a manifesto containing a clear commitment to leave the European Union, Labour’s leader and shadow Chancellor said, “We are leaving the single market. We are leaving the customs union.” The right hon. and learned Member for Camberwell and Peckham (Ms Harman) said, “We are leaving the single market. We are leaving the customs union.” But when the hon. Member for Brent North (Barry Gardiner) and his colleague the shadow Brexit Secretary, the right hon. and learned Member for Holborn and St Pancras (Keir Starmer), were interviewed, they never confirmed what their leader and the shadow Chancellor said. They have been doing an intricate dance around the matter, so I ask the hon. Gentleman a simple question: is the Labour party’s position to leave the single market, to leave the customs union and to make trade deals?
I urge the right hon. Gentleman to read precisely what our manifesto says. We have made our position on those points extremely clear: we are leaving the European Union; that means that we want to secure the best benefits, and we will look to secure exactly what the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said he would achieve, which is the exact same benefit benefits as we currently have inside the European Union.