Thank you to everyone who has been in touch about trade deals and a customs union with the EU.
I have consistently stated that I want to maintain a close economic relationship with the EU in the future. I believe that this is in the interests of UK and EU businesses and it is the best way of securing prosperity for both of our citizens.
That is why I support the Withdrawal Agreement – it maintains the benefits of a customs union while also providing an independent trade policy. This delivers on the referendum result and protects people's livelihoods.
In relation to the NHS, Ministers have been consistently clear that protecting public services, including the NHS, in trade deals is of the highest importance. Future trade deals will ensure that decisions on running public services remain the sole competence of the UK Government and the devolved administrations. The NHS is universal and free at the point of use. It will never be for sale to the private sector and no trade deal will change these principles.
On food, I can assure you that standards will not be reduced in the pursuit of trade deals. Any future trade deal must work for British farmers and consumers. EU standards on food such as chlorinated chicken will come into UK law through the EU (Withdrawal) Act 2018, and EU regulations on hormone treated beef are already part of UK law. These prevent the use of growth hormones in imports and domestic production and will continue after the UK leaves the EU.
Whilst present circumstances have added further uncertainty in some respects, I continue to believe that leaving with the Withdrawal Agreement that has been negotiated with the EU should still form the basis of the UK’s departure from the EU, safeguarding the issues you raise.