As politicians we are elected to serve the public. And three years ago, we asked them for their verdict on decades of membership of the European Union. They told us to get Britain out. We promised to deliver.

Our failure to do that has overshadowed everything else we, as a Government, have tried to do in the last three years. We look incompetent as a result, and our poll ratings have plummeted. And we allowed the Brexit Party to hoover up votes that meant many hard-working councillors and MEPs, who had given literally thousands of man- and woman-hours to the party, lost seats they didn’t deserve to lose.

Now, I do not think we will deliver Brexit and immediately receive an electoral dividend. We have to give the electorate far more than that – a vision for the future that people can unite behind. One built on the core values of the Conservative Party for more than a century – giving people the opportunity to get on, and rewarding them for their ambition when they do. Making a multi-year, multi-billion commitment to our schools, investing in infrastructure across the country to rebalance the economy, and leaving more of what people earn in their pockets.

To do that, though, we must leave. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

I spent a career in business doing cross-border deals and I know how to negotiate. I’ve used those same skills in Government to get things done at home and build bridges with other countries. The security relationships I’ve negotiated for our post-Brexit future are testament to that.

Now I’m ready to apply those skills to the greatest challenge we’ve faced for decades.

First, I will focus on delivering the only thing that’s got through Parliament – leaving Europe with alternative arrangements on the backstop. Ireland is the key to that, and I believe we can do a deal with them. So to unlock the impasse I will make a big, bold offer to fund all of the new technology required for a border without hard infrastructure, now and in the future.

Economically, it’s the right thing to do: I firmly believe getting a deal will unlock investment that will trigger a mini economic boom. But morally, too. We have chosen to go our own way, free to be a sovereign nation in the world once again, and it is we who have chosen to say no to the status quo. So it’s right that we work to restore the goodwill at the heart of a relationship founded on family bonds, geography and shared history. 

I’ve looked at this in the Home Office, tasking a team from Border Force to look at what we’d need in place. They were clear the technologies already exist to avoid a hard border, and important work in being undertaken by the Alternative Arrangement Commission on this front. What we need is the trust and will on both sides to make this work a reality – and it’s possible. 

Don’t listen to those who say that the EU is dug in, that it won’t shift its position. Listen to what the BBC’s Europe Correspondent Katya Adler said on Wednesday night:

“EU leaders want to avoid a no-deal Brexit, so there is a bit of wiggle room if they think a wiggle could do the trick. What do I mean by wiggle? They know that any new Prime Minister will ask for something on the backstop and actually, amongst EU leaders, there is more openness among some to an end date to the backstop if push came to shove… If Dublin is agreeable, and only if all EU leaders are 100% sure it would do the trick (with Parliament), that would pass [through Parliament].”

I believe we can deliver a deal. I believe Parliament will unite, for the second time, around an orderly exit. But if we can’t, and the choice is No Deal or no Brexit, let me be clear.

As Prime Minister I would have a clear position. We should leave on October 31st. And if we cannot get a deal we should, with great regret, leave without one, having done everything we can to minimise disruption.

Of course, the arithmetic of a minority government is inescapable. As the recent comments of the Speaker demonstrated, it’s simply not credible to promise you can deliver a No Deal if Parliament is set against it. And anyone who promised this would risk driving us to a pre-Brexit general election this year: a disaster first and foremost for our country and public trust in democracy; but also for our party. So no – I will not be proroguing Parliament. 

That’s why we need a leader who can unite the party, and country, behind a credible plan – and then go and actually deliver it.

I believe this is that plan. And I know I am that leader.

The post Here’s how I’ll get us out of the EU by October 31st – no ifs, no buts, no excuses appeared first on BrexitCentral.

The Tory veteran talks of his dismay at the ‘fantasies’ of the leadership race and his fears if Boris Johnson becomes PM

Since he entered parliament in 1970, Kenneth Clarke has served under eight Conservative leaders, from Edward Heath to Theresa May. He has also stood three times, in 1997, 2001 and 2005, to be Tory leader himself during difficult periods for his party. But throughout it all he has never known a political crisis remotely like the present.

Now aged 78, he still describes himself as “a natural optimist”. But a combination of Brexit and the Tory leadership contest are testing his positive thinking to its limits.

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According to a major new poll from BritainThinks, 69% of Britons are feeling pessimistic about the state of national unity

If Britain were a car it would be a Bentley, says Lorraine Beerman. Grand, impressive, prestigious. A split rumbles within the room – a focus group of older Leave voters from greater London. Perhaps a Jaguar might better represent the country, suggests someone. A debate is had on what car Britain would like to be and what car it actually is. At the moment, sighs another attendee, Britain is a dinky Ford Fiesta. Beerman bristles.

Related: Divided, pessimistic, angry: survey reveals bleak mood of pre-Brexit UK

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‘I can’t recall such despair,’ says top pollster, and 72% of population fear divisions will get worse

Britain is a more polarised and pessimistic nation than it has been for decades, according to a survey that reveals a country torn apart by social class, geography and Brexit.

The survey by BritainThinks reveals an astonishing lack of faith in the political system among the British people, with less than 6% believing their politicians understand them. Some 75% say that UK politics is not fit for purpose.

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As politicians we are elected to serve the public. And three years ago, we asked them for their verdict on decades of membership of the European Union. They told us to get Britain out. We promised to deliver.

Our failure to do that has overshadowed everything else we, as a Government, have tried to do in the last three years. We look incompetent as a result, and our poll ratings have plummeted. And we allowed the Brexit Party to hoover up votes that meant many hard-working councillors and MEPs, who had given literally thousands of man- and woman-hours to the party, lost seats they didn’t deserve to lose.

Now, I do not think we will deliver Brexit and immediately receive an electoral dividend. We have to give the electorate far more than that – a vision for the future that people can unite behind. One built on the core values of the Conservative Party for more than a century – giving people the opportunity to get on, and rewarding them for their ambition when they do. Making a multi-year, multi-billion commitment to our schools, investing in infrastructure across the country to rebalance the economy, and leaving more of what people earn in their pockets.

To do that, though, we must leave. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

I spent a career in business doing cross-border deals and I know how to negotiate. I’ve used those same skills in Government to get things done at home and build bridges with other countries. The security relationships I’ve negotiated for our post-Brexit future are testament to that.

Now I’m ready to apply those skills to the greatest challenge we’ve faced for decades.

First, I will focus on delivering the only thing that’s got through Parliament – leaving Europe with alternative arrangements on the backstop. Ireland is the key to that, and I believe we can do a deal with them. So to unlock the impasse I will make a big, bold offer to fund all of the new technology required for a border without hard infrastructure, now and in the future.

Economically, it’s the right thing to do: I firmly believe getting a deal will unlock investment that will trigger a mini economic boom. But morally, too. We have chosen to go our own way, free to be a sovereign nation in the world once again, and it is we who have chosen to say no to the status quo. So it’s right that we work to restore the goodwill at the heart of a relationship founded on family bonds, geography and shared history. 

I’ve looked at this in the Home Office, tasking a team from Border Force to look at what we’d need in place. They were clear the technologies already exist to avoid a hard border, and important work in being undertaken by the Alternative Arrangement Commission on this front. What we need is the trust and will on both sides to make this work a reality – and it’s possible. 

Don’t listen to those who say that the EU is dug in, that it won’t shift its position. Listen to what the BBC’s Europe Correspondent Katya Adler said on Wednesday night:

“EU leaders want to avoid a no-deal Brexit, so there is a bit of wiggle room if they think a wiggle could do the trick. What do I mean by wiggle? They know that any new Prime Minister will ask for something on the backstop and actually, amongst EU leaders, there is more openness among some to an end date to the backstop if push came to shove… If Dublin is agreeable, and only if all EU leaders are 100% sure it would do the trick (with Parliament), that would pass [through Parliament].”

I believe we can deliver a deal. I believe Parliament will unite, for the second time, around an orderly exit. But if we can’t, and the choice is No Deal or no Brexit, let me be clear.

As Prime Minister I would have a clear position. We should leave on October 31st. And if we cannot get a deal we should, with great regret, leave without one, having done everything we can to minimise disruption.

Of course, the arithmetic of a minority government is inescapable. As the recent comments of the Speaker demonstrated, it’s simply not credible to promise you can deliver a No Deal if Parliament is set against it. And anyone who promised this would risk driving us to a pre-Brexit general election this year: a disaster first and foremost for our country and public trust in democracy; but also for our party. So no – I will not be proroguing Parliament. 

That’s why we need a leader who can unite the party, and country, behind a credible plan – and then go and actually deliver it.

I believe this is that plan. And I know I am that leader.

The post Here’s how I’ll get us out of the EU by October 31st – no ifs, no buts, no excuses appeared first on BrexitCentral.

After Brexit, the UK has great potential to have a vibrant agricultural market that is beneficial for consumers. The Institute of Economic Affairs’ new report, Fertile Ground: Opportunities and challenges for UK agriculture, sets out how this can be done in two key areas: trade and regulatory protectionism.

It is vital we promote a greater reliance on markets in the industry and reduce protectionism, but we must also be realistic about the impact of these changes on UK farmers. A gradual approach, coupled with direct payments that are more targeted to actual farmers – and not simply large landowners as is currently the case – would be a good starting point.

The benefits of free trade are well established in all branches of economics and, contrary to popular belief, the opportunity for cheaper food imports benefit more than just consumers. Expounding free trade in the farming industry is essential in the long run to ensure that producers receive accurate price signals regarding what to produce. If they do not receive that information, then sooner or later they will have to adjust, and it will be all the more painful.

More controversial perhaps, is regulatory protectionism. The approach under current EU rules here may be less well known, but it is no less damaging. Protectionist rules, with no sound scientific basis, keep out affordable imports that could otherwise benefit the poorest in society. A classic example here is the much maligned ‘chlorinated chicken’. As our paper makes clear, US poultry is in fact significantly safer than poultry reared and produced in the EU. Pathogen Reduction Treatments (which rarely include chlorine) are used to remove harmful bugs and parasites and have been found to be both safe and effective by the EU’s own regulator in 2005 and 2012.

The data bears this out. In 2016, the confirmed incidence rates for Salmonella and Campylobacter were 20.4 and 66.3 per 100,000 population respectively. Comparable US data shows rates of only 15.45 and 13.45 per 100,000 population respectively. Given that US citizens eat more than twice as much poultry meat per head of population, the difference in contracted poultry-related illnesses here is startling.

The other commonly-cited justification for a protectionist regulatory policy – at least regarding food – is animal welfare. Critics point to the lower legislated standards in countries like the United States. This, however, largely misses the point. The US deliberately adopts a different approach to the EU on these areas, focusing on informing consumers rather than prescriptive methods of production.

When the EU introduced a ban on battery cages for egg production, the result was not an increase in free range eggs, but the use of ‘enriched cages’ only slightly larger than the previous ones. Enforcement was also patchy, with both Italy and Greece referred to Court of Justice of the European Union for failing to comply. In contrast, US producers are increasingly switching to free-range production due to consumer pressure. McDonalds is going cage free in the US, and more than 60 other large food companies have pledged the same over the next decade.

Outside the EU, the UK should bear in mind that it is consumers who gain from reduced barriers to imports, and who are ultimately responsible for raising production standards. And the benefits of smarter regulation do not end there. The aggressive EU application of the precautionary principle prevents UK farmers from adopting innovations that could transform agriculture. Regulations banning genome-edited crops and GMOs risk seeing UK farmers left behind by more efficient global producers, and all of society paying a higher environmental cost. New crop strains, banned in the EU, have seen pesticide use in non-EU countries decline by over 35% in the last quarter century. Yields are up over 20%. The result of this transition is that more food can be grown using less land (a boon for conservation and the environment) and fewer harmful pesticides.

When the UK leaves the EU, we should look to lowering our tariff and non-tariff barriers and reforming our regulatory environment to allow farmers to innovate. Globally, the agricultural industry is changing, and we can no longer ignore or try to divert from this direction of travel.

Rather than keeping the world out, we should focus our efforts on opening up our markets, forming better, more effective regulation and helping vulnerable producers’ transition through life outside the Common Agricultural Policy. 

The post The post-Brexit opportunities and challenges for UK agriculture appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Met drops probe as David Baddiel says BBC should not have edited out comment

Scotland Yard has dropped an investigation into the comedian Jo Brand, who joked about throwing battery acid, rather than a milkshake, at rightwing politicians on a BBC radio programme.

Officers said they would take no further action on Friday evening. Earlier, Brand had apologised for the comments she made on Radio 4’s Heresy show.

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Facing a Boris Johnson premiership, Labour shadow cabinet to debate its stance

Jeremy Corbyn’s shadow cabinet is set to debate Brexit on Monday, as the prospect of a Boris Johnson premiership accelerates Labour’s drift towards supporting a second referendum.

Corbyn is coming under renewed pressure to set out his backing for a fresh public vote more clearly, as the shockwaves from Labour’s catastrophic performance in the European elections continue to reverberate.

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Frontrunner refuses invite, but will take part in a similar BBC-hosted event two days later

Boris Johnson will be represented by an empty podium in a television debate on Sunday night as his five remaining rivals to be Britain’s next prime minister fight it out for a place alongside him in the ballot of Conservative members.

The former foreign secretary declined an invitation to participate in the Channel 4 leadership debate, saying he feared it would be “cacophonous”.

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