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'You're scared of the word Brexit, aren't you?': Andrew Marr clashes with Labour MP over EU/UK trade agreement
26 September 2022, 19:37
Andrew Marr asks Labour's Anneliese Dodds why her party 'can never say the word Europe'
Andrew Marr has clashed with Labour MP and shadow equalities secretary Anneliese Dodds over the possibility of a trade agreement between the UK and the EU.
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Speaking live from the Labour Party Conference on LBC's Tonight with Andrew Marr, Andrew put the possibility of a trade deal between the UK and the EU to Ms Dodds.
"If we don't want to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world and we want growth and we want to improve the balance of trade, why is it the Labour party can never say the word 'Europe'?" He asked.
"It's our biggest market, right beside us.
"I'm not suggesting that you say you want to get back into the EU, but is the time not coming where you need to have a new approach, a new opening to Europe, some kind of new, more generous trade deal?"
Ms Dodds said Labour was "focussed on is practical steps to improve the health of our economy".
"Is it not time to think about a trade deal with this huge market on our doorstep?" Andrew pressed.
"It seems that the Labour party's too scared to actually say the word Europe."
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"No, I completely disagree," said Ms Dodds.
Andrew said there were many companies who exported to Europe who "have either gone under or are now on the edge of going under" because of the difficulties with trading with the bloc.
"I'm wondering what a Labour government would do to help them?" He asked.
"Specifically for small businesses, for example, we've said that we would ensure there was a small business on every shortlist, for procurement," she said.
"We would scrap business rates, that's such a huge problem for many small businesses on our high streets... these are practical steps.
"It's not the Labour party that is being ideological around economic issues right now.
"We are setting out credible plans on the economy... a big contrast with the Conservatives' approach, I'm very sorry to say."
"I think the technical term for this is 'mad as cheese' - British cheese, mind you"
When asked why Labour "could no go further" and discuss a trade deal with the EU, Ms Dodds said she and the rest of the shadow cabinet were focussed on "measures that we can put in quickly, that will make a difference".
"It's because you're scared of the word Brexit, aren't you?" Challenged Andrew.
"Really, that's what it's about?"
"No, not at all, and with respect I've spoken with dozens of businesses including in Northern Ireland," said Ms Dodds.
"They have not said to us they want to have an academic discussion about the future of all of the UK's trading relationship with the EU.
"They have said they want a veterinary agreement, they want a data agreement, and that's what we have been arguing for.
"Labour is in partnership with business, in contrast with the Conservatives."