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Withdrawal Agreement Bill Erasmus

In my view, the election made it clear that the public supports the vision we represent. This was discussed at length during the election campaign and we obtained our majority on that basis. To answer directly the question of the noble gentleman, Lord Lea, I say that only by leaving the single market will the Uk be able to reach an ambitious free trade agreement and conclude new trade agreements with new and existing global partners. Attempts to remain in the EEA agreement beyond withdrawal are by no means easy, as many noble lords would have us believe. The EEA is an agreement that currently exists between the EU and a number of EFTA countries – the Noble Lord, Lord Tunnicliffe, mentioned permits and the time your House of Lordships has already taken for a licensing system. This has helped us understand the challenges that the freight forwarding industry will face. The government is aware that the ECMT licensing system may be limited and, if we do not have an agreement, we will consider bilateral agreements with individual countries. Many of these historic bilateral road agreements can be taken over, and we have them with all EU Member States, with the exception of Malta, for geographical reasons. These would form the basis for maintaining connectivity.

However, our immediate objective is to reach an agreement, especially for road freight transport. There is great interest on both sides in ensuring that the agreements work and that we are able to serve supply chains in all countries. As always, I appreciated the contribution of the noble Baroness Lady Quin. We share an interest in the North East of England. She is an experienced former minister who does some aspects of the work I do now, and I always listen very carefully to what she has to say because it makes a lot of sense. She asked me about the impact on the north-east of England, which of course interests me a lot. The answer will depend on the future trade agreements we negotiate, so I say: come back and ask me again at the end of this year. We have made it very clear that we want an ambitious free trade agreement. We want trade to be as free as possible, and we will negotiate hard to achieve this happy state. An amendment to the Withdrawal Agreement backed by the Liberal Democrats, obliging the government to continue to participate in Erasmus+, was rejected by Conservative MPs, raising fears that the UK could abruptly withdraw from the programme.

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