Westminster Column - Brexit

31st January 2020

After more than three and a half years, Parliament has finally delivered the result of the 2016 referendum on EU membership. On Friday, the United Kingdom will officially cease to be a member of the European Union.

The government has achieved its most significant manifesto pledge in just a few weeks – showing what a difference a strong majority can make to delivering decisive governance.

So ends our 47 years of membership of a multi-national organisation, initially founded on trade, which increasingly became a political project focused on ever closer union. We may be out of the political union, but we will keep our close ties to our allies and trading partners on the continent.

Now that Brexit is finally being delivered, whether we voted Leave or Remain, it is time to abandon those monikers, and get behind making the most of the new status quo – by backing the government in its negotiations on free trade with the EU, to get a comprehensive deal within a limited time frame.

I am more optimistic than some commentators, given how the political situation has changed so markedly over the past three months. But I do recognise there are areas of the economy which may take longer than others to establish agreement. The Chancellor has been clear we will not be in the Customs Union or the Single Market, so will not be rule takers. But we do want a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement, and that is the government’s priority.

Clearly, food producers in South Shropshire will be concerned to ensure we can continue to export to EU countries without tariffs and I shall be pressing Ministers to achieve this. Given my own interest in the environment, I shall also be looking to ensure Britain develops world class environmental standards and is at the forefront of tackling climate change.

The government is determined to reap the benefits of Brexit – from more bespoke legislation to support our environment, farmers and businesses, to reforming immigration to attract the brightest and most talented people from all over the globe. So I remain optimistic for our future, and look forward to playing my part in post-Brexit Britain.

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