Article 50: 29th March 2017

Anna Soubry (Broxtowe) (Con)
The Prime Minister has made it very clear that immigration is her No. 1 priority, and that as a result we cannot accept the free movement of people and therefore we cannot remain a member of the single market. But that may change in the next two years. Who knows what might happen? The EU may move away from that principle of the free movement of people. In view of that, could the Prime Minister give an assurance that she has not turned her back on membership of the single market? It is what ​British business wants, it would see off Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP’s outrageous demands for a second referendum—[Interruption.]Wheesht awhile! These are serious matters that this United Kingdom faces, and that would provide the solution to Northern Ireland as we now leave the European Union.

The Prime Minister
My right hon. Friend started her question by saying that immigration was the No. 1 priority. What we have done is to say that we want a comprehensive package that, yes, does enable us to control immigration and set our own rules on immigration, but also has exactly the sort of free access to the single market that I think she is talking about and that businesses want to see. I believe that we can achieve that agreement. I believe we should be optimistic and ambitious in achieving that agreement.

There are other freedoms that the European leaders will cite in relation to full membership of the single market, such as the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and I think that people here voted to stop the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice last year. But what matters to me is the outcome—not the structure by which we achieve that outcome, but whether we have that free, frictionless, tariff-free access to the single market. That is what we want to achieve and what we will be working for.