Boris Johnson says he wants to leave the European Union with ‘a deal’ – but there are two ways of attempting this. One option doesn’t require winning a vote in the House of Commons; the second one risks collapsing the Government he is expected to be asked to form tomorrow.

One is to offer a basic Free Trade Agreement and accept the countless ‘mini-deals’ that the EU has already offered us which keep goods flowing and planes flying. The other is to go for an official ‘Withdrawal Agreement’ under Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union.

The current Withdrawal Agreement is brimming with sovereignty-sapping poison, purposely designed to lock us into EU laws and keep the EU in charge. Even without the backstop, the surrender agreement is filled with booby traps, each clause subjugating the UK in a wide range of areas. For example, Article 4 is not part of the backstop but it sets EU law as superior to our own. The whole document is a dead-end that never led to Brexit or a future trade deal and represents everything wrong with the failed approach of Theresa May.

But simply adapting this failed document is missing the point. You can rip out the backstop and tinker with product standards but the Withdrawal Agreement was designed solely to keep the UK in the EU’s orbit. To put it bluntly: you can replace the nozzle of your vacuum cleaner but it still sucks. The whole DNA of the deal is Brexit-In-Name-Only. Why are we attempting complex gene-editing with just three months to go?

Even worse, trying this approach risks Parliament amending the Bill because the Withdrawal Act passed in 2018 says there must be a vote in Parliament on an official “Withdrawal Agreement” as defined by Article 50 in the Treaty on European Union. Because fanatical Remainers would rather sink the ship than see it leave port, they’ll add a Customs Union, Single Market membership or a second referendum if they ever get their hands on it. If they’re lucky, the Government might be able to pull the Bill by cancelling the time allotted to it. But more likely, the rebels could steal the Commons agenda and pass the legislation into law.

This would all be avoided if we steered clear of an official Withdrawal Agreement. If Boris Johnson really wants to both leave the EU and get a trade agreement, then the only way to do so is to offer a basic trade deal outside of the Article 50 mechanism. Under the Constitutional Reform and Governance Act 2010 any such treaty must be laid before Parliament but if Parliament wanted to block such a deal the Government could override it.

This new trade agreement would be complemented by all of the mini-deals arranged in case we failed to secure an official Withdrawal Agreement. We’ve already negotiated continued membership of the Common Transit Convention, cutting red tape for UK traders. We’ve reached an ‘Open Skies’ agreement with the US and made deals on flights with a number of other countries. The European Commission said it would list the UK as an authorised third country for trade in animals, plants and food products. And with no Withdrawal Agreement, UK lorries will still be licensed to operate in the EU until the end of 2019, giving two further months in which to negotiate a permanent arrangement.

After three years of dithering, the EU must believe we are serious, but if they believe we have to get this through the Remain-dominated Parliament, it will severely weaken our negotiating hand. And that’s also why it’s crucial that this is a take-it-or-leave-it offer. We cannot let this one-time offer morph into something that isn’t Brexit – we’ve played that game before. Leave voters already watched with horror as Theresa May’s tub-thumping Lancaster House Speech gradually turned into the stitch-up at Chequers.

Dropping the Withdrawal Agreement in its entirety is not only desirable for the next Government, it’s essential for the survival of the Conservative Party. If Boris Johnson wants to keep his promise to leave the EU “come what may”, and wants to get a deal, then the only chance he’s got is asking for a basic trade deal. Playing around with Theresa May’s deal would not only look terrible to sceptical voters and boost the Brexit Party no end, it would give Parliament the chance to derail Brexit entirely.

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As we have been reflecting over the last few days on the success of the US mission 50 years ago to put man on the moon, it is worth reflecting on John F Kennedy’s role in that, and the role of leadership in bringing change.

JFK was far from a saint, but his ambition and inspiration set the scene for great task-focused independent decision-making and investment and innovation that made the moon landings possible and led to many consumer spin-offs that have underwritten the US economy for the last 40 years.

Without his incantation “We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy but because it is hard”, and commitment of government effort, Silicon Valley may well not have had the impetus and imprimatur for the ecosystem that encouraged so many different personalities and sources of capital and ideas to pull together to achieve the goal.

Although the world of trade, customs and regulation sounds more prosaic, the effect on UK prospects of doing these things well after we leave the EU, with authority and holistic purpose, could be equally dramatic. To paraphrase JFK, we choose to leave the EU, not because it is easy, or hard, but because our choosing matters.

Boris Johnson’s ability to reach millions of people makes him the man for our moment. Like JFK, he asks us to take responsibility for what happens, and deliver on the nation’s choice. Give each citizen agency, however big or small, inspire greatness in each individual, and the public good will be elevated.

Boris can unite the country with his optimism, can level with people and inspire them. He can reassure with action but also with words. PM Boris and his Cabinet communicating a positive vision that people respond to would be more than a breath of fresh air. They are the wind needed for our sails.

We need relentless optimism in our presentation of the benefits of a positive working relationship to the EU. Yes we would like to agree various things to make interaction work well when we leave, and we stand ready for such mutually beneficial agreements. The draft Withdrawal Agreement won’t pass though, as it rides roughshod over the independence our people directed, so we may need to come formally to those agreements after we leave.

We want the EU’s wonderful produce. We want to drive their cars. We want to contribute our creativity and commitment to Europe’s defence and its culture. We’d like our people to feel they want these things more, not less.

They should however complement, not constrain, our global and domestic focus that was the cri de coeur of the referendum. If the EU’s wish is to obstruct those things, then we will have to make other arrangements.

It does take two to tango, and the EU and UK need to trust each other. Clarity on what we want and what we will do are the first steps. After all, it is we who have made the move.

So we should accept the offer Donald Tusk made of free trade. We should agree to facilitate trade and cooperation on the island of Ireland without a hard border through the “alternative arrangements” we are working up that look to involve the Good Friday Agreement institutions. We should guarantee citizens’ rights, and talk about an appropriate financial settlement.

If we keep EU-level agreements autonomous and away from Investor State dispute mechanisms and investment provisions, they can be concluded rapidly without need for ratification by each EU Member State.

In any event, we should reciprocate the EU’s unilateral “no deal” contingency measures, which are actually types of deal that already cover for example air services, haulage permits and product acceptances to keep things moving in any scenario.

In the mean time, we should plan trade policy to move rapidly to improve trade conditions with the rest of the world after October 31st. We should prioritise benchmark comprehensive free trade agreements with Australia and Japan, and continued work towards free trade agreements with the US and key states that cover services, procurement and intellectual property intensive industries. Trade partners can make mostly low-tariff access to the UK, offered temporarily to all after October 31st, permanent and better by signing UK free trade agreements.

If Boris is chosen to lead, his Government must move at pace and in scale though, to change the game with respect to things in its power.

It must get behind our farmers with marketing support and tax breaks for local production and environmental stewardship, especially where EU market access or other pressures may be difficult.

It must get the Treasury to review and make forecasts using actual cost figures not unrealistic negative assumptions, and actively mitigate, defray cost of, and communicate business needs for new processes.

It must help EU traders navigate the need for new regulatory declarations and registrations and any related checks, and support business organisations in their efforts to do so.

It must support logistics providers, not just customs brokers and big companies, to facilitate trade by consolidating shipments, driving out costs and taking advantage of simplified procedures. Arrangements for pre-clearance and Transit in premises and logistics hubs and stops must be made, and communicated on the ground with traders and shippers so they will use them ahead of arrival at the Channel ports, to have smooth passage through them and beyond.

It must rapidly invest in people and systems for Border Force and HMRC, in their interfaces with counterpart agencies in the EU and elsewhere, and their resource needs. It must make sure procedural simplifications and mitigations work in the real world of logistics. Ease of use of new processes to manage the differences between jurisdictions should be the primary goal.

It should reduce VAT and excise rates to lowest neighbouring levels to reduce incentives for non-compliance.

The new Government should shock and awe with improvements to business conditions in the UK more generally.

It should introduce lower, flatter, simpler taxes, and proper incentives for hard work. It should raise NIC thresholds that discourage people from earning more. The safety net should be provided not just through general taxation and national insurance, which has become just another tax spent in-year, but also through progressive actual insurance of pooled risk, for example to fund social care.

It should incentivise saving and investment in UK operations that generate local jobs, skills and technologies – incentives similarly applied whether people are employed, self-employed or in corporate or partnership structures. It should make the UK the place of choice for people to keep and invest their capital, by transforming and broadening the capital and investment allowances system and treatment of onshore funds and their owners.

It should stand by sectors and communities which are in transition to different processes and opportunities, and back them with local infrastructure, skills development and incentives.

A relentless “can do” attitude and focus on the goal of making a success of independence, is how we will do this and deliver on people’s ambition.

Our country can do much to make this work – it must – and Boris is the one to lead it.

In return we should ask, as JFK did, what each of us can do for our country, to make it happen.

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After last week’s Tory leadership hustings in London, a kipper-wielding Boris Johnson cemented his position as the favourite to succeed Theresa May. He now appears unassailable as the candidate to become our next Prime Minister and his task remains simple – deliver Brexit. Fail, and he will never be forgiven.

Brexiteers will have welcomed the news in the closing stages of the contest that Jeremy Hunt has joined Boris Johnson in declaring the Irish backstop as dead, ruling that even time limits and exit mechanisms would not save it. If a Withdrawal Agreement were to pass Parliament, it is now clear that it must not contain a backstop of any kind. Instead the focus has shifted to so-called ‘Alternative Arrangements’ – something the EU has tried to dismiss out of hand, showing their unwillingness to actually negotiate on an agreement which has not actually been signed off or closed. Both the European Parliament and the British Parliament are yet to pass any form of the Withdrawal Agreement.

While Johnson has managed to bring Hunt in line with his position on the backstop, he is the only candidate to unequivocally pledge to leave the EU on October 31st, come what may. Firstly, he has pledged to attempt to negotiate for a new deal, whilst simultaneously preparing for a No Deal WTO exit. This preparation is of vital importance, because it makes the entire process of Brexit easier and drastically improves the ability of the UK to threaten a walkout. If potential consequences of No Deal can be minimised, then it is a viable option.  

Should any renegotiation bear fruit, a new reformed Brexit deal should be able to pass through Parliament – that’s if Remainers’ claims they simply want ‘a better deal’ are true. However, no one would really be surprised if the Remain-dominated Parliament still refuses to vote for a new and drastically improved deal, flying in the face of public sentiment. If they do, then perhaps proroguing Parliament might appear to be an act in the public’ interest. If MPs refuse to listen to the people who vote them onto their green benches in the Commons, then surely it is the job of the Government to do whatever is necessary in order to follow through on the mandate given in the EU Referendum.

Vitally, Boris Johnson has echoed arguments we at Get Britain Out have made in the past – a WTO Brexit does not mean “No Deal”, it simply means leaving without a Withdrawal Agreement, something which was never discussed as being necessary – even by Remain – throughout the referendum. Instead, we will negotiate a trade deal with the EU after we leave on WTO Terms, and organise many smaller deals on issues such as citizens’ rights, which have already been confirmed by Boris Johnson as safe, should he become Prime Minister.

Now, more than ever, Brexit must be brought to a conclusion. The Labour Party’s recent declaration that it would support Remain in a second referendum threatens to undermine the largest democratic decision ever taken by the British public. The only way Labour and Jeremy Corbyn can win a general election is if Boris Johnson fails to deliver Brexit.

As a staunch Brexiteer and key leader of the Vote Leave campaign, if Boris Johnson enters 10 Downing Street as our Prime Minister on Wednesday, he must ensure Brexit is delivered – not only for the nation, but also to safeguard the Conservative Party. There will be no second chances. Boris would never be forgiven if he fails to Get Britain Out of the EU on October 31st, as the electorate will ensure an end to his political career. Succeed, and Boris Johnson will never be forgotten.

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Let’s be clear. I’m no supporter of Boris Johnson. I dislike his Tory politics and social priorities and I think his economics are daft. But he is the best hope for Brexit. So let’s offer him some advice for when he becomes Prime Minister (if I can do so without being expelled from the Labour Party).

A new Prime Minister with a new government has the right to demand a new negotiation. Do so, and take a tougher line than trembling Theresa. Get the predictable reply from an EU so amorphous and disorganised it can only say “no”. That inflexible intransigence will be encouraged and defended by clamouring Remainers and the Blair/Mandelson/Lib Dem fifth column in Britain.

Ignoring the fact that their collusion has encouraged the EU to evade any acceptable agreement so far, the Remainers will denounce “No Deal” or “crash out” to undermine our negotiating position and frighten the nation. It ain’t true. Only the EU can produce No Deal by refusing to change its position. They won’t dare to embark on a trade war. It would be damaging to them as well as us, at a time when recession is developing. It’s a little difficult to see a shambling organisation which Remainers tell us is so benign and virtuous, rejecting all the norms of modern trade by setting out to cripple and punish their former partner, for the crime of doing what its people want.

The medicine won’t disappear, flights will arrive almost on time, students will still exchange, travellers visit and nationals from each country will still work in others and trade will go on. Even if there’s no comprehensive treaty, there’ll be a live and let live de facto settlement to allow the EU to get on with its follies, an EU army, trying to make the euro work and dealing with refugees.

Build confidence, use No Deal as a negotiating threat, rouse British anger at their bullying then call an early election. Gordon Brown made the fatal mistake of not calling for a new mandate. You need one and you have a good chance. Labour has divided and disabled itself. The nation wants the impasse ended and is crying out for leadership. The time is ripe. And you can always take the precaution of offering, say, £50 million to the constituency of every Labour MP who votes for your settlement. Several will accept it – I certainly would if I was still there!

My one proviso is that you avoid splitting the Brexit vote by reaching a pact, like the Lib-Lab agreement of 1905 which was brokered by Herbert Gladstone between the Liberals and the new Labour Party to bring Labour in. That would have kept Labour as a minority pressure group, had the Liberals not split. The Brexit Party can’t be treated like lepers now they’re a force.

Theresa’s failure can be a springboard to your success. Feebleness was her metier. Now the country wants someone strong and convincing. After years of misery, bafflement and failure, people want leadership, optimism and a bit of fun – not more misery and fear from the cheerless Remainers.

The Kill Boris campaign waged by the media who once loved him, the liberal intellegentsia and The Guardian has succeeded only in convincing people you’ll provide all that. So boost your prospects further by promising to end austerity with a big boost to spending.

That’s vitally necessary anyway. None of it should go in tax cuts for the rich, they’ve already done well. The greater need is state aid to exporting industry and venture capital for import substitution so we can seize the opportunity to boost exports and replace imports, which the inevitable devaluation (due anyway, so horrendous is our trade deficit) will provide.

Winning will be the start of the first serious negotiations with the EU in which we’ll fight our corner, not lie down like a mat to be walked on. The Northern Irish border remains a problem, but could surely be dealt with by making the whole of Northern Ireland a free port where we won’t impose customs barriers. The Irish can put them up if they want to, but having benefited for years by unfair tax competition they might welcome the competitive advantage of becoming a goods entrepot too, which would allow customless trade both ways.

Good luck. Britain deserves some. Doing what the people want won’t be as tough as the miseryguts fear, the Remainers want and Treasury miscalculates.

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The world is certainly changing. That’s not a new phenomenon – it’s been changing now for four and half billion years. But for those of us who measure change over a period of our lifetimes, it is probably changing as fast as anyone can manage.

Yet the change is not just around how we earn a living (who would have thought you could make millions out of posting cute kitten videos on the internet?), or the threat to many people’s future (what do we offer redundant Uber drivers after artificial intelligence gives us driverless cars?). Much of the change will be about how we see ourselves in the world as traditional structures alter in the 21st Century.

The West has a rich and mature economy. We have a standard of living that half the world desires, a broadly stable population and high and stable GDP per capita. We enjoy high productivity. Yet the three things that are fundamental to strong and rapid economic growth – a young population, a growing population and a low starting point – are in abundance across the globe outside the West.

Markets such as Asia are developing fast. Africa, while currently offering little excitement as a destination for Western global traders, will grow at a rate that we risk overlooking, passing up an opportunity to secure ourselves opportunities.

And as economies grow and the economic balance of power shifts, how will the world look in a decade’s time? What will be the role of the US, with its interesting politics, its America First approach and reluctance to enter into plurilateral trade deals? How will it influence the world and play its part?

China is rapidly about to take on the mantle of the world’s largest economy – a position it has enjoyed for all but the last three or four centuries of the last three or four millennia. But China’s economy, as a controlled market economy, is not one we intuitively understand in the West, and its approach to global influence and investment is characterised by the Belt and Road Initiative. BRI seeks to help nations develop a strong infrastructure, but uses Chinese capital, Chinese constructors, Chinese labour and Chinese machinery. The recipients of this investment find themselves mortgaged to the Chinese – and the growth that comes from it helps China as much as the recipient. Yet are those of us in the West, committed to the OECD’s definition of international aid, just a little envious of the Chinese approach of aid tied to trade?

Meanwhile, Russia asserts itself quietly through covert influencing of the West, and looks to build its global presence again; India’s population and influence grow every day (aspirational British brands such as Jaguar are now owned by Indian investors); and smaller economies such as those of South East Asia gather together, strengthening their ties established 52 years ago via the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), a collective whose economy is expected to surpass that of the EU by 2050.

In this changing world, we need to recognise that the world looks towards Britain with a sense of affection, a recognition that we have a rich cultural history, a tradition of standing up for decency and honesty – and a brand in the Union Jack that sells across the world.

It is remarkable that Hunter wellies have franchises in Tokyo; that housing developments in the outskirts of Shanghai are modelled on suburban Home Counties towns; and that owning a British car – a Bentley, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar or Aston Martin – is seen as the global epitome of class and success (irrespective of who the investors are).

Institutions such as the Commonwealth bring together a diverse group of nations that have a common, British heritage and they are proud of that. But it is not all that simple.

A Thai banker or property investor would be understandably baffled that just a decade after the Asian banking crises in the late 1990s, Britain and America constructed their very own banking crash, having apparently not learnt a single lesson from recent history halfway around the globe. Similarly, as countries look to work together and form alliances, such as ASEAN, there is collective bemusement that Britain seeks to separate itself from what appears on the outside to be a good trading bloc. That confusion is only compounded by the extraordinary splits in the two main political parties and the possibly terminal drive to the left of Britain’s Labour Party.

As a former Trade Minister, my experience in the two years after the Brexit vote sums up how the world view has changed.

Understanding the importance of exporting

In the first few months after the vote, the wider world looked at Britain and asked the question: “What on earth are you crazy Brits doing?’, bemused by the decision to separate from a successful, complex organisation. But as time went by, the refrain changed to: ‘Actually, this Brexit looks interesting,’ as companies realised that if a UK bilateral deal with a third country was better than their own country’s bilateral, it was worth investing in the UK to take advantage of that opportunity.

But the third stage was more worrying. As people looked more closely at Britain, and the chaos of parliamentary splits, it has become more apparent that a guy who might introduce exchange controls, who might nationalise people’s investments, who might tax wealth, might just become a hard-left Prime Minister. Even if he doesn’t, the theory goes (for some), the Conservative Party might pivot left to counteract his influence.

This recent view of Britain, however, might give us a clue as to what lies ahead. Because while we introduce greater risks for ourselves, we also bring forward greater opportunities. As the geo-economic tectonic plates shift, we need to assess whether we leave ourselves more vulnerable by being outside a trading bloc, or more agile, nimbler and more fleet of foot to seize the advantages of global opportunities. So while the risks are greater, the prize is greater. The potential volatility increases.

And we need to ask ourselves just what our role should be in the wider political spectrum of a changing world.

In 1776, Adam Smith published The Wealth of Nations. In it he argued that we should move from mercantilism (where we sold stuff to the rest of the world in order to secure greater gold reserves) and adopt free trade, where we exported our surpluses and imported those things that others made better or more easily than us.

This has been going on now for a few hundred years, and despite flirting with Marxism and socialism, we keep coming back to Smith as a way that works and a way that fits the human spirit. But we must ask ourselves: are we, the sons and daughters of Adam Smith, truly living up to his ideas?

In the broadest sense, the answer has to be yes. We are advocates of free trade and we pride ourselves on our ability to trade freely with the rest of the world. But there was a common refrain during the EU referendum in 2016. Some Brexit campaigners challenged that the EU was holding us back, that we couldn’t trade with the rest of the world because of the EU. In the fog of war, much is said, including myths that don’t bear up to the hard reality of fact.

The broadest measure of a country’s financial internationalisation is the current account – the measure of all money coming in and going out, whether from trade, investment, borrowing, dividends or remittances.

Of the G20 nations, the UK in 2017 had the third highest current account deficit, behind Turkey (5.5 per cent of GDP) and Argentina (4.9 per cent). At 3.7 per cent of GDP, our current account deficit looked shameful compared with China’s surplus of 1.5 per cent, Italy’s 2.8 per cent, Korea’s 5.1 per cent or Germany’s amazing 7.9 per cent.

Even looking at our export performance, far from being held back by the EU, our numbers held back the EU’s. Our exports of goods and services were the equivalent of 30.5 per cent of our GDP, leaving us a lamentable 28th out of 28 EU members in terms of export performance. France was not much better. But a broadly (very broadly) similar economy to ours such as Germany saw exports reach 47.2 per cent of GDP, while the star performer was Luxembourg at a whopping 230 per cent (which is what you get when you combine a tiny economy with a vast financial services sector).

Trying to understand what lies behind these figures is hard. While much was made of our enthusiasm to export more during the referendum, the experience of the Department for International Trade was that the demand for British brands far exceeded our ability to supply. An estimated 400,000 British businesses which had exportable products were not exploiting their overseas opportunities. In taking their products to market, it seems, British businesses do not instinctively look overseas.

When I served as Minister for International Trade, I addressed a Chamber of Commerce business breakfast of 100 or so attendees. Just 15 were exporting already and only half a dozen were looking to export. That was disappointing in itself. But when asked how many were importing, just three hands went up. This from a room of people who sit on Swedish furniture, watching American films on Korean televisions, listening to Japanese hi-fis, wearing clothes made in the Far East, driving German cars. Birmingham’s signature dish is a Balti. We all love a Chinese takeaway. The truth is, we engage with the world – but mainly when it comes to us.

Brexit’s opportunities and challenges

Brexit is the most brilliant opportunity for this country. Brilliant because it can be used as a focal point for us to redefine how we engage with the world. It is the match that lights the blue touch paper of our global rocket. While divisive now, it can be the unifier that joins us in this great endeavour to engage globally. It can define us as a global influencer for good.

But we need to think about a few things first.

In his book The Road to Somewhere, David Goodhart looks at ‘the new tribes shaping politics’. He raises the point that two thirds of all people live within 14 miles of where they lived as a young teenager.

There is, among as many as three quarters of us, a strong sense of place, of loyalty to the local community, of attachment to the locality that we value so much. What a wonderful aspect of our nationhood that we feel so paternal about our neighbourhood.

But there is another side to this. That sense of care and devotion also leads to a sense of protection, a worry that the local way of life might be harmed or changed. As politicians we see this in its simplest form when planning applications are made. Once built, a new development is accepted almost immediately, but not until after quite a protest.

In trade, this manifests itself in odd arguments. Take TTIP – the almost certainly defunct Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between the EU and the US. Hundreds of thousands of emails to MPs were generated complaining that TTIP would result in a sell-off of the NHS as US firms would buy up vast swathes of our much loved health service. Or the recent row when British firm DeLaRue lost out to a French security printer in winning the contract to manufacture our new, blue, non-EU British passports.

Those howling in outrage (including from DeLaRue) protested that it was an abomination that the French should have anything to do with our sacred and symbolic passport. The reality is that these agreements form part of the Government Procurement Agreement, a deal among nations to open up their government buying contracts to other nations, thus creating a more efficient and fair market. We could withdraw, but in so doing DeLaRue would lose far more international contracts to produce other countries‘ passports (and banknotes) than it would gain in keeping the UK’s blue passport. Similarly, companies selling medical equipment and services to US health operators would lose out if we closed our medical market to outsiders.

The same applies to consumer interests and standards. This debate manifests itself with the so-called chlorinated chicken. Under EU standards, chickens are reared in pens at a significantly lower density than American chickens. The result is happier but more expensive chickens. In being happier, there is less chance that our chickens carry campono bacteria, so they are washed in fresh water during preparation for the meat market. But in America, they are washed in chlorine (or the modern equivalent) to kill off the bacteria (something we humans do every time we go to a public swimming pool). Although this sounds unsavoury, it turns out that you are four times less likely to pick up a bug from an American chicken than a UK one.

However, if we maintain our production standards, we will make our home-grown chickens uncompetitive against those imported from outside the EU. The result will be that domestic chicken farmers fail due to a price war. ‘But,’ ask some consumers, ‘if there is cheaper chicken available, why should I pay more just to keep some local farmers happy?’

Similarly, a producer of a desirable product, currently facing barriers to entry in the US, might suggest that we open up our chicken market to US exports in return for his access to the US. And all the while we do these trade deals, we must concede that having just won back sovereignty from the EU, we are ceding just a little bit of our hard-won sovereignty every time we sign a new free trade agreement with another country.

So, the challenge we face as we turn our trading eyes to the horizon is to bring the nation with us. The Brexit dividend – global free trade – is one that is not as clear-cut as one might think. We abandon the European Court of Justice only to replace it with the World Trade Organisation courts. We extract ourselves from the Lisbon Treaty merely to create new, and many more, deals elsewhere. But it is a challenge we must embrace and win.

The aid debate

There is another argument that needs to be won: aid. One of the Conservative Party’s greatest achievements is reaching the 0.7 per cent aid target. Set by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the OECD, the UK is one of just five members (of 30) who have achieved the target. This is something to be incredibly proud of.

But it is understandable that, in the latter stages of the austerity process, people challenge whether this money would be better spent at home. The ‘charity begins at home’ mantra is well used.

Yet consider something as simple as a person’s need for clean water. Every individual needs 1.5 litres a day of drinking water to survive. Two billion people across the planet have limited or no access to fresh clean drinking water, yet we Brits each flush 35 litres of water down the lavatory every day.

It’s almost certainly too simplistic an argument for a complex debate. But a UK shipbuilder recently challenged a decision by DFID to give a developing nation tens of millions to build a ship. “Why’, they reasoned, ‘didn’t DFID commission the ship from us and then give them the completed ship instead? It’s a very good question. Job creation in the UK and help to a developing nation. I struggled to find a good answer.

This brings us back to the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative. China’s money helps developing nations achieve infrastructure ambitions while helping China develop economically. It also secures a Chinese footprint that straddles the globe.

Of course, there is a reduced economic benefit for the receiving country as little of the investment money is spent locally. But China is expected to invest something in the region of US$1 trillion. That blows Western aid commitments out of the water.

Yet it has to be a good thing – a wealthy nation sharing its wealth with those who need it, creating for itself a new market, more global stability, lower migration. But with just one sixth of DAC members achieving the aid target, should we ask if there is something wrong with the target?

So the challenge for new Global Britain is this. First, we must come to an agreement that international aid is a good thing, and that we want to continue to give 0.7 per cent of GDP as Overseas Development Aid money (ODA). If we achieve that, do we want to be free to choose how we give it, tying aid to trade, by abandoning the DAC definition and our membership? Or do we remain in DAC and try to modify the definition of ODA spend, thereby encouraging others to up their contributions? Or should we be quiet and carry on as before?

I suspect that an ambitious, truly Global Britain may want to be an influencer. I suspect that we would proudly hold our head up high if we can change DAC to a more achievable definition, helping others achieve the 0.7 per cent target.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO)

A confident Britain should be looking to extend its reach further. An organisation such as DAC within the OECD is important, but it is already something where we have our own voice. In the new, post-Brexit world it is important that we look to speak up in forums where our membership has been subsumed by our membership of the EU. There is no better example than the World Trade Organisation.

The WTO, and its predecessor GATT, have been instrumental in reducing tariffs to trade. This has been a good thing, freeing trade and helping both consumers and producers within the 164 member countries. But in the last few years, the WTO has identified a fourfold increase in non-tariff barriers – even before we saw the locking of horns of the world’s two biggest economies.

The trade war between the US and China reflects nationalism in the US and game-playing by the Chinese. With the world’s second biggest economy (soon to be the biggest) maintaining it is still a developing economy, and the world’s current biggest economy introducing blatantly protectionist measures, it is clear that consumers will suffer. And not just Chinese and American consumers. When elephants fight, goes an African saying, it is the grass that gets trampled.

What is clear is that a confident Britain has a big role to play post-Brexit. But for its role to be clear and effective, it has to have a sound strategy. It is not good enough to simply say that we need to get our current account deficit down, or to boost our exports. Simply being an advocate of free trade is good in itself, but by itself it does little more than help consumers.


A grand strategy that draws together free trade, reform of aid and ODA, that brings with it the enthusiasm of the population of these great sceptre’d isles, will put Britain front and centre of a maturing and developing globe.

In working as global reformers and free traders, we will play a leadership role in securing a safe and reliable future for our global economy. In so doing, our people will be proud of our achievements, hold our head high as global leaders, yet certain of the security of their local communities.

Moreover, as we develop our own trade policy, and influence others, is now the time for the UK to seek to introduce our social values within trade deals? Workers’ rights, the rights of minorities, women’s rights and protections, animal welfare, tackling modern-day slavery, ridding the planet of plastic waste: these are just a small handful of many progressive policies that we are proud to have championed in the UK. Can we demonstrate, successfully, our ability to influence others to follow our leads though not just our new-found independent membership of global organisations, but by the choices we make when securing free trade deals?

Brexit is just the catalyst we need. The future is exciting. Now is the time to embrace it.

The above is one of more than 35 essays by Conservative politicians included in the new book, Britain Beyond Brexit, just published by the Centre for Policy Studies.

The post Brexit Britain has a big role to play in promoting free trade and reform of international aid appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Writing for BrexitCentral yesterday, Lee Rotherham hammered home the point that the soon-to-be-appointed Prime Minister urgently needs to install Brexiteers inside Downing Street and Whitehall departments in order to deliver Brexit. He wrote:

“If Brexit means Brexit, then change as sanctioned by the referendum must, by definition, involve change. Ministers should now start accepting that they are in the business of transformation… Delivering Brexit needs freshness. It needs empowered departmental leadership. It needs ministers who have not become entangled in the small print of the Dead Deal they have been advocating, or intellectually compromised by it. It needs actual Brexiteers.”

There is little doubt that Theresa May’s administration has throughout its three years had the feel of a Remainer Government grudgingly seeking to deliver the Leave result as instructed by the voters at the 2016 referendum. And that’s hardly surprising, given how few of its members actually believed in Brexit from the beginning and campaigned for a Leave vote.

The numbers are actually quite stark. Of the 93 MPs who were appointed by Theresa May to her first Government in July 2016, I calculate there as having been 73 Remain backers (78%), 1 Undeclared voter at the time of the referendum (1%) and just 19 Leave voters (20%).

Three years later and the balance has barely improved. Naturally there have been many resignations (although departing Leave-backing ministers were actually often replaced with Brexiteers). But today, of the 94 MPs currently serving as a Minister or Whip in the Government, they break down as:

  • 69 Remain backers (73%)
  • 1 Undeclared voter at the time of the referendum (1%)
  • 24 Leave voters (26%)

However, of the 219 Conservative MPs currently residing on the backbenches, they break down as:

  • 102 Remainers (47%)
  • 112 Leavers (51%)
  • 4 Undeclared (2%)
  • 1 Did Not Vote (Kirstene Hair, before you ask)

This imbalance between an overwhelmingly Remain-dominated Government while Brexiteers make up the majority of Tory backbenchers is unsustainable and must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the new Conservative Prime Minister.

I therefore felt it would be a worthwhile exercise to draw attention to a number of the talented Brexiteers currently languishing on the government backbenches – whether or not by their own choice – whose skills and expertise could be used in government under the new PM.

I’m not going to get into earmarking people for specific posts and there will be others not mentioned below who deserve recognition. Furthermore, I should emphasise that I am not proposing a 100% Brexiteer government and there are many honourable former Remain-backers who accept the referendum result and will play important roles in the next administration. But I hope the following might provide some inspiration for the new Prime Minister as he assembles an administration committed to delivering Brexit.

First of all there are the many Brexiteers who have quit the Government specifically over the May administration’s handling of Brexit. Aside from Boris Johnson – who BrexitCentral readers know I hope will be the one making the appointments – from the Cabinet we also lost David Davis, Dominic Raab, Esther McVey and Andrea Leadsom (as well as Priti Patel who quit for other reasons). From the Brexit Department itself, former ministers Steve Baker, Suella Braverman and Chris Heaton-Harris ought surely be due a recall to the ranks of the Government, while other Leave-backers to quit over Brexit itself were junior ministers George Eustice and Nigel Adams along with Whip Gareth Johnson.

Then there is a significant raft of parliamentary private secretaries (PPSs) who quit over government policy on Brexit. Ordinarily, these unpaid ministerial aides are the next likely candidates for promotion to the ranks of the government proper, but in each of the following ten cases their decision to resign has for the time being stalled their progress: Andrea Jenkyns, Conor Burns, Chris Green, Robert Courts, Scott Mann, Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Ranil Jayawardena, Michael Tomlinson, Craig Tracey and Eddie Hughes.

Some more junior Brexiteer Tory MPs have opted to beaver away on select committees these last few years rather than find themselves obliged to toe the government line by taking a PPS job. Jacob Rees-Mogg is probably the most prominent example, but others who the new PM might want to consider fast-tracking to ministerial office include Marcus Fysh, Simon Clarke, Maria Caulfield, Henry Smith and ex-MEP Andrew Lewer.

But it’s not only those Brexiteers whose talents are yet to be recognised who the new Prime Minister should be looking at using: what about the wiser owls who have ministerial experience but who Theresa May either ignored or fired? Former Cabinet Ministers Theresa Villiers, Iain Duncan Smith, David Jones, Owen Paterson, John Whittingdale and Sir John Redwood all fall into this category, as do former junior ministers like Sir Mike Penning, Mark Francois and James Duddridge.

And finally, there is a clutch of long-serving Brexiteer MPs who have never served as ministers and instead directed their energy at other roles, for whom the assembly now of a new government might finally present the opportunity to serve as a minister. The 1922 Committee Chairman Sir Graham Brady considered a run for the Tory leadership but opted against doing so and ought to be in line for a government job, while I wonder whether senior select committee veterans like Sir Bernard Jenkin, Julian Lewis and Richard Bacon could be considered for a job?

Putting together a government is evidently a tricky business, managing egos and expectations, and likely disappointing a number of colleagues. Numerous factors need to be taken into consideration, not least regional balance and gender/ethnic diversity, but when many of us look at the new government to be appointed later this month, the one thing that we will consider first and foremost is: does this government collectively believe in Brexit and the opportunities it affords? The identity of those who the new Prime Minister appoints to his government will give us our answer and I hope to see many of those I have highlighted above being suitably employed.

The post We need a government that believes in Brexit: some advice on ministerial appointments for the new PM appeared first on BrexitCentral.

One of the pleasures of the Conservative leadership campaign has been the incentive to learn more about the candidates. In particular, I may not agree with much of the political philosophy of Rory Stewart, erstwhile contender and walking Darwin Award, but his books on Afghanistan and Iraq are a delight to read. They are not just earthy and grotty, but plant your sandalled feet in the dust rather than leave you up in a Nimrod looking down into his compound (as I once found myself – I expect he didn’t see us waving).

In his book The Prince of the Marshes, Stewart recounts an anecdote told to him by an Iraqi Marxist who had been in Cuba. When Fidel Castro was organising his Cabinet, he asked who knew anything about education. “I was a teacher, comrade,” said one guerrilla. “You are the Minister of Education.” And that appointment was settled. “Who is an economist?” Che Guevara raised his hand. “You, Che, are the Governor of the Central Bank.” Later, his colleagues asked Che why he had claimed to be an economist. “Economist? I though he had asked ‘Who is a communist?’” He was Governor of the Central Bank for eighteen months.

The tale is amusing and, today, salutary. In a matter of weeks we will know who has been elected to head the Conservative Party, and with it (barring constitutional speed bumps) become Prime Minister. There then immediately follows another critical moment where ministers are appointed who will reshape their departments, some of which are beginning to drift like the inflatable lilos of civil servants’ threatened summer holidays.

The decision on who fills these posts, and in particular those charged with navigating the core Brexit issues, will mark a pivotal point that will either invigorate or doom the Brexit process – and with it, the Conservative Party itself. 

The Cabinet system has over recent decades tended to operate via one of perhaps four models. There has been the ‘sofa junta’ approach of Blair-Brown and Cameron-Osborne; the ‘Chairman’ approach of the old-style Cabinet from Margaret Thatcher’s first term and earlier; the more ‘Murdochian’ approach of later Thatcher years or of Gordon ‘Catch My Nokia’ Brown; and latterly Theresa May’s ‘Wrestlemania’ period, a minor foretaste of what Jeremy Corbyn’s tenure would be like if he applied Stalinist comitology techniques to the workings of the Privy Council.

Notwithstanding the example set by the combined slow-motion car crash and vehicle crusher of John Major’s premiership, reverting to a more traditional collegiate approach would likely best suit a Boris Johnson premiership. This would allow Cabinet members to get a grip on their departments, while giving them clear direction to hit set targets. However, this only works if the right people are picked to do the right job.

Remain Apologists pretend that Brexit has yet to be delivered because the task is inherently impossible. This is flippant defeatism worthy of pre-Thatcher Britain. One should rather focus on the deliverymen. Within Theresa May’s Downing Street, very few card-carrying Eurosceptics were listened to, let alone brought on board. Brexiteers trying to contribute were frozen out with a “We’re not doing it that way”. Policy work suggesting an approach based on a Free Trade Agreement and intergovernmental principles, rather than deep institutional affiliation and significant regulatory alignment, was considered out of bounds from the outset. The mission was treated as one of managing and minimalising change, rather than picking a strategic objective. The end result was the Withdrawal Agreement, a deal so profoundly flawed that the churn in Cabinet Ministers obliged to sell it reached rates reminiscent of Italy in the Seventies.

The Deal is dead. It is beyond repair. There is no hope of slapping on some hubcaps, swapping the exhaust, and pimping it up. Nor is there now time to begin the negotiations again from first principles, owing to the botched policy of deliberately running down the clock and then repeatedly pressing the snooze button. 

If Brexit means Brexit, then change as sanctioned by the referendum must, by definition, involve change. Ministers should now start accepting that they are in the business of transformation and support rather than replication. To deliver, that means guaranteeing that, at each of the key trigger points between now and 31st October, their respective authorities, agencies and budget holders see their contingency plans green-lighted at the point where each, in turn, needs in advance to be set in play.

The Cabinet’s gone stale with the Withdrawal Agreement. Delivering Brexit needs freshness. It needs empowered departmental leadership. It needs ministers who have not become entangled in the small print of the Dead Deal they have been advocating, or intellectually compromised by it. 

It needs actual Brexiteers.

The post Downing Street and Whitehall departments urgently need Brexiteers inside them to deliver Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

As we reach the concluding stage of the Conservative leadership election, with Tory members up and down the country starting to fill in their ballot papers, it is only appropriate that we at BrexitCentral should now formally take a view as to who should be the next Prime Minister – the Prime Minister to deliver on the historic referendum result of more than three years ago and get the UK out of the European Union.

First of all, we’d like to thank all the candidates who have engaged with BrexitCentral during the campaign. From the ranks of those eliminated earlier in the process, we were pleased to publish pieces from Matt Hancock, Mark Harper, Sajid Javid, Andrea Leadsom and Dominic Raab setting out their respective visions for delivering Brexit.

As far as Brexit is concerned, we feel the centre of gravity on the Tory benches has shifted during the course of this leadership election, with those actively opposed to No Deal under any circumstances now evidently reduced to a rump. Indeed, it is significant that both finalists – Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson – are committed to leaving without a deal if the EU refuses to come to a reasonable arrangement with the British Government.

Jeremy Hunt set out his big picture vision for Brexit for us here, and elaborated on this with a ten-point delivery plan last week. There is much to recommend in many of his proposals and, since there is no monopoly on good ideas, if he is unsuccessful, we trust that the victor will take the best aspects of his plan on board. 

Hunt also deserves praise for being one of the first senior Remainers in the Government to declare that he had changed his mind on Brexit, as he did in an interview with Iain Dale on LBC in October 2017. He explained how the arrogant behaviour of the European Commission since the referendum had made him rethink his position, while also admitting that he was wrong to have believed the Project Fear predictions of short-term economic pain that we were told would result from a Leave vote.

It is both notable and regrettable that when asked whether she had changed her mind since the referendum, Theresa May repeatedly refused to answer the question, such as when she was probed by Jeremy Paxman on the matter during the 2017 general election campaign.

Boris Johnson, however, has been an unstinting and passionate advocate for leaving the European Union since a time when it was still an unfashionable, anti-Establishment view. As Mayor of London, he defied the call from Prime Minister David Cameron to row in behind the Remain campaign and became an energetic advocate for Vote Leave. (Indeed, it’s a pity that he did not take the helm of the ship of state when Cameron left office after the referendum, but let’s not rake over old coals).

And then, exactly one year ago today, Johnson again put his career on the line for the Brexit cause when he, along with David Davis and Steve Baker, resigned from the Government in protest at Theresa May’s unacceptable Chequers proposal.

In his pitch to BrexitCentral readers yesterday, Johnson explained that he feels “a deep sense of personal responsibility for Brexit” and that this is why he is best placed to see it through – an assessment with which we agree.

More than three years on from the referendum, Brexit must happen, and soon, or else there is a risk that what little remains of public confidence in the democratic process will evaporate entirely, with the traditional party system also obliterated as a by-product. Boris Johnson understands the urgency of the situation and his specific commitment to deliver Brexit by the hard deadline of 31st October makes it clear to us that he is the right candidate to replace Theresa May.

Moreover, we believe he would inject a much-needed dose of optimism and positivity into the Brexit narrative emanating from both Downing Street and Whitehall. Under Theresa May, far too many ministers and civil servants have not only been reluctant to embrace the opportunities presented by our departure from the EU but, in some cases, they have actively tried to scupper the delivery of Brexit and been allowed to undermine the UK’s negotiating position without any repercussions from Number Ten.

We anticipate that Boris Johnson would oversee a very different operation. It will be important for him to ensure that those around him in Downing Street, as well those appointed as ministers, are signed up to his vision and timetable for delivering on Brexit. Wider than that, he will need to be diligent in his choices for other impending appointments such as the next Ambassador to the United States and Mark Carney’s replacement as Governor of the Bank of England if the government is to present a cohesive vision for Brexit Britain.

There are of course many issues aside from Brexit that require urgent attention from whoever becomes Prime Minister, such as housing, adult social care and funding for those with special educational needs, to name but three. Many of the public are getting understandably and increasingly agitated that big issues like these are not getting the attention they deserve owing to the amount of bandwidth taken up in Whitehall by Brexit. This is why we judge the delivery of our departure from the EU by that forthcoming deadline of 31st October as promised by Boris Johnson to be all the more important.

Through twice winning the mayoralty of a Labour-inclined city as a Conservative and attracting support for Vote Leave from those of all creeds and classes across the nation during the referendum campaign, Boris Johnson has a proven record of getting the public behind him against the pundits’ predictions.

If ever modern Britain needed a Prime Minister who could bring people together for a cause, it is surely now and for the delivery of Brexit. Right now Brexit is unfinished business – and we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to finish the job.

The post Why we believe Boris Johnson is the right man to deliver Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

Theresa May never believed that the United Kingdom could flourish outside the EU. In fact, the entire political establishment has spent almost all of its energy over the last three years demeaning the views of the millions of people who voted to Leave in the EU referendum, and attempting to panic voters into changing their minds. And they’re still at it.

The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, this time in the form of Philip Rycroft, the former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union. He’s the latest merchant of doom who wants to tell us all how distasteful he finds the views of ordinary voters to be.

17.4 million people voted to leave in 2016 – including two thirds of my constituents in Dover and Deal. Leaving the EU was an option on the ballot paper that attracted more votes than any politician or other referendum option in our history.

The British people voted in unprecedented numbers because they believed in better: a Britain where we can build a land of opportunity and a nation with the freedoms and independence that the vast majority of countries around the world enjoy. Outside the EU we will be able to control our borders, our laws and money and set our own trade policy.

Voters knew leaving the EU would not be easy and that there would be bumps in the roads. Some of those bumps might even be pretty jarring. But “fraught” with risk is over the top. Voters have heard the Project Fear fiddle played before – and they didn’t like the tune.

Day-by-day the Project Fear warnings have become ever more alarmist. We were told there would be border chaos, food and medicine shortages, price hikes, states of emergency, catastrophe, planes falling out of the sky, civil unrest – even an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

We’ve been warned of gridlock on the roads to the Channel Ports, that our pets will die in quarantine, that the Calais Jungle would be moved to Dover and that our water will become poisonous. We were even warned of an economic calamity in which millions would lose their jobs and house prices would collapse. Despite all of this, the people voted to Leave and it turns out they were absolutely right to do so.

People’s salaries have been increasing at the fastest rate in almost a decade, employment is at record levels and we’re still growing steadily as an economy. President Trump has promised us a “very powerful” trade deal and Obama’s “back of the queue” rhetoric has turned out to be the shallow nonsense voters predicted. Never has our future looked so bright.

Of course we have all long known that Brexit would present a challenge at the Dover frontline. There are around 60 sailings to the port of Dover from Dunkirk and Calais every day. But the cross-Channel trading route is a huge success story: more than £120 billion of trade moves through Dover’s docks every year and when you add Eurotunnel into the mix, the Channel Ports account for about a third of the UK’s trade in goods. Eurostar has, of course, pledged to maintain its service, saying that, “we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit.”

Contrary to the increasingly desperate warnings, it is in everyone’s interests – that of the French as well as ours – that traffic continues to flow, particularly as they sell us £95 billion more goods than we sell to them. Small wonder that Xavier Bertrand, the boss of the Calais region, says they have no intention of holding things up at Calais. And what are the chances President Macron will play politics with jobs and livelihoods on both sides of the English Channel? Especially after he has done that in France and emerged with riots and a political bloody nose. He is now more likely now to focus on French jobs than Brussels clap lines.

If people like Philip Rycroft put as much effort into being ready as they put into trying to frighten us, we would be in an even better position. That’s why they should change tack now. They should spend all remaining time between now and 31st October making sure we are fully ready for any challenge that may be thrown at us.

At the Dover front line we have been working on preparations for disruption. A plan has been put to the Department for Transport to ensure the town of Dover is free of gridlock and that both of Kent’s motorways can be kept open and free-flowing. It is that kind of forward thinking that is needed from across Government. They must focus on being ready for business on 1st November.

Hope – not fear – fuelled that magnificent result in 2016 and we need an optimistic visionary in No. 10 who understands that and who will ensure that Project Fear and all its messengers are dealt with properly.

Right now, our country has an unprecedented opportunity to grasp the huge opportunities Brexit presents as well as to put the damaging paralysis behind us.

The British people stood ready in 2016 to make the call for our nation’s independent future. Let’s make sure that Parliament is able to match the political courage of the people. We must use all our energies to deliver for the people and match their unparallelled ambitions for this great nation of ours.

Britain stands ready for Brexit and we need a visionary leader to take us over the line. We really can triumph outside the EU, we can unite after we’re out and then bring the country and the Conservative Party together to take the fight to Jeremy Corbyn.

The post The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, but Britain stands ready for Brexit appeared first on BrexitCentral.

It is three years since we voted to leave the EU. Since then we’ve dithered and delayed. Broken our promise once, then once again. The uncertainty is terrible for business. Big issues have been ducked. And constant attempts to overturn the result have destroyed what little faith there was in our politics.

Three years of hand-wringing, of a managerial outlook that saw Brexit as a problem to be mitigated rather than an opportunity, has left us humiliated. It’s created the Brexit Party and nourished the Lib Dems. Both have feasted on our vote, as over a thousand Conservative councillors will testify.

It’s almost a year to the day that I resigned from Cabinet, so I could argue my case for a proper Brexit that unites people around the exciting opportunities for our country. Not only were we the architects of our own incarceration – in the form of the Irish backstop – but we also laid down the one weapon that might have got us what we wanted. By never truly meaning the threat to walk away, our demands were never taken seriously.

This election comes at a critical moment because there is still time to change. The choice for members of our great party – legitimately wondering if this is its final chapter – is whether we change direction or settle for more of the same.

More of the same means more Brexit dithering and delay, more uncertainty for business and continuing division in our country. Kick the can and we kick the bucket. That means only one thing: the proto-Marxist, Chavez-worshipping, anti-Semitism-appeasing Jeremy Corbyn. That’s the consequence of more of the same.

We need a change of direction. That’s why we must treat 31st October as a real deadline for leaving the EU, come what may, not a fake one.

The hour is darkest before the dawn. Get this done and we can turn things around. What I’m offering is a more optimistic, dynamic approach to these negotiations. I want a deal. I believe our European friends want one and they will be in no doubt that we are serious because we will prepare all-out for No Deal.

In so far as our wishes have appeared unclear in the past, our friends will quickly see where things stand. The no-brainer of protecting citizens’ rights, putting the £39 billion into a state of creative ambiguity and moving discussions about the Irish border to their proper place: our future trading relationship.

If our friends feel they cannot agree, then we will be match fit for No Deal. We will have the fiscal firepower to support business and agriculture. We will be free to substantially diverge on tax and regulation. I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of being told that we cannot do it — that the sixth biggest economy in the world is not strong enough to run itself and go forward in the world.

Politics has changed and many of my colleagues understand this. MPs on all sides have got to understand it is their responsibility to deliver Brexit as democrats first and foremost. It was right to ask the people whether we should stay in the EU or leave, and it is right for Parliament to enact that decision. Dogs in the manger need to wake up – our democracy is too fragile to be played around with.

We voted to leave and leave we will.

Campaigning for leave up and down our great country, I got the same message. Town after town felt invisible and ignored. Our great economic success was for other people in other places. Not theirs. Yes, people wanted control over our borders and our money. But the clincher was opportunity, or the lack of it.

I will unite this country by doing for all the regions and nations what I did in London: building the infrastructure to unlock jobs and growth, closing the opportunity gap.

That’s why alongside delivering Brexit by 31st October I will deliver the funds to level up education funding for every child, deliver full fibre broadband for every home by 2025 and 20,000 more police officers on our streets. I want to be the Prime Minister who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail — the Crossrail of the North — what I did in London with Crossrail. I will protect our Union by becoming the Minister for the Union, with the clout in Whitehall to match.

I feel a deep sense of personal responsibility for Brexit and that’s why I am the one to see it through. This is it. No second chances. We can choose more of the same, or we can choose change: delivering Brexit on 31st October, uniting the country and beating Corbyn.

The post No more fake Brexit deadlines: we must leave the EU on 31st October, come what may appeared first on BrexitCentral.

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