During Prime Ministers Questions I questioned Theresa May on her Brexit plan as recent figures, released by the OECD, showed a devastating 90% drop in inward investment to the UK between 2016-2017. This has been caused by profound market uncertainty that Brexit has triggered. It’s vital we reverse this market uncertainty and secure industries such as steel, which is why I urged the Prime Minister to keep an open mind on an EEA-based Brexit, as the only way to reverse that uncertainty.
Stephen Kinnock: Figures released by the OECD on 27 April show that inward investment into the UK in 2017 slumped by 90% in comparison with 2016, which is one of the largest one-year drops in foreign direct investment ever recorded in any country. It is crystal clear that if this downward trend continues, it will have a catastrophic impact on steel and the other manufacturing and service industries that are the lifeblood of our economy in Aberavon, in Wales and in the UK. In order to reverse the profound market uncertainty that has caused FDI to plummet in this way, will the Prime Minister now confirm that she is prepared to keep an open mind on our country rejoining EFTA—the European Free Trade Association—and remaining in the European economic area? Will she also recognise the fact that there is a strong cross-party consensus for—[Interruption.]
Mr Speaker: Order. I am sorry; this is an extremely important question, but Members really do need to be sensitive to the fact that lots of other people want to ask questions.
The Prime Minister: If the hon. Gentleman looks at what we have seen in the past few months, he will see company after company announcing investment in this country, which is leading to more jobs here. Yes, as we look ahead to leaving the European Union, we need to ensure that our customs arrangements will meet the three tests that I set out earlier: an independent trade policy enabling us to do trade deals around the world; as frictionless as possible a border with the EU; and ensuring that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland. That is exactly what the Government are working to produce.
*OECD figures were reported in the Observer on 29 April 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/apr/29/britain-economy-grinding-halt-no-new-growth-areas
And again in the Observer on 12 May 2018: https://www.theguardian.com/business/2018/may/12/brexit-tories-hard-border-too-hard-a-question-ireland-customs-union