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Brexit negotiations are two-way

An EU flag flies in the face of Parliament
An EU flag flies in the face of Parliament

While discussing Brexit negotiations recently, a colleague commented to me that a good deal is one that neither side considers to be a great one. There is a lot of sense to this statement, writes Wetherby MP Alec Shelbrooke.

A negotiation is after all a two-way process that requires compromise and pragmatism. Inevitably not everybody will be happy but the important thing is that we reach a partnership that guarantees the greatest bilateral access to UK and EU markets, while providing the UK with control over its laws, money and borders.

Last week the Prime Minister set out what our future partnership with the EU must do and did so in a fashion that embodied pragmatism and realism, while offering a vision that both remain and leave camps could rally behind.

The Prime Minister’s message to the European Union was clear: the UK Government knows what it wants, we understand the EU’s principles and we believe have a shared interest in getting a deal right. So let’s get on with it.

Our future partnership with the EU must first and foremost respect the result of the public referendum.

We are leaving the European Union and politicians must stop seeking to prevent this by attempting to stay in the functions of the EU that could leave the UK as a vassal state with little say over obligations we would have to abide by.

This would be the result of the position adopted by Jeremy Corbyn last week, a position that would seek to keep the UK in a customs union within which the UK Government would have to abide by rules determined by the European Commission and over which we would have no control as a non-EU member state.

Crucially, the UK would be restricted in its ability to agree new bilateral trade deals of its own.

There is a pragmatic alternative to that supported by Jeremy Corbyn. It is in the interests of both the UK and EU to have a future economic partnership that is enduring and that protects jobs and security.

The position of the UK Government is that this partnership must deliver an outcome consistent with the kind of country we want to be: a global trading nation able to sign its own trade deals with countries outside of the European Union.

The United Kingdom has a strong record on consumer rights, environmental protections and animal welfare, it is therefore right that the UK would want to implement standards in new trade deals that go beyond those currently adopted by the European Union, for example, recognising animals as sentient beings and banning live exports. Something currently permitted under EU legislation.

Across the political divide in the UK those who favoured remaining in the EU and those who want to leave all broadly supported the Prime Minister’s speech last week.

Even the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said: “I welcome Theresa May’s speech, clarity about the UK leaving the Single Market and Customs Union, and recognition of trade-offs that will inform the European Commission’s guidelines regarding a future free trade agreement”.

The time has therefore come for all politicians, both at home and in Europe, to get behind the UK Government’s pragmatic and realistic vision for a post-Brexit bilateral partnership.

Those politicians in Europe who support “hurting” or “damaging” the UK in order to set an example to voters in their own countries who favour leaving the EU should quickly recognise that it is in the interests of both the UK and EU to have a sensible deal that promotes our economic partnership.

And here at home, Jeremy Corbyn ought to realise that chasing short-term political opportunities devised to tie the Prime Minister’s hands in negotiations, frustrate the Brexit process in keep the UK in the European Union, will be met with disdain by voters across the political divide, whether they voted to leave the EU or, like me, voted to remain.