Chequers & Brexit

My passionate conviction, during the EU referendum two years ago, was that our country's future is so much brighter outside the EU.

I still believe that today. Alongside 17.4 million other Leave voters, on June 23rd I voted to take back control of our money, our laws, and our borders and to give our children and subsequent generations the superb opportunities presented as we make our way in the world. By striking new trade deals with our friends and allies in the Commonwealth and with the emerging markets in Asia-Pacific, young people today will have greater global prospects than we or our parents had before us.

Our Parliament will regain its sovereign status and we will once again be subservient to no-one but our own voters.

The deal the PM set out at Chequers keeps to the red lines that I set out as a Leaver – we are leaving the Single Market and leaving the customs union; we are ending free movement of people across our border; and restoring our UK courts to their rightful place as the final arbiter of right and wrong in our country.

Importantly, we are stopping sending ever-increasing sums of money – our taxpayers’ money – to Europe. Our “independence dividend”, some £10 billion per year, will allow us to spend on our priorities, including putting more money into our NHS.

As a former Environment Secretary, I was clear that we must leave both the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy, allowing our farmers, fishermen, and agri-foods sectors to thrive.  The new policies that we are putting in place will ensure that we always put UK interests first, rather than losing out to those of the EU27 as has happened for decades.

And the PM has given her absolute assurance that our Parliament will always have the final say on whether we accept any changes to the common rule book on manufactured goods and agri-foods, that we can seek a UK-EU free trade area whilst vitally avoiding the prospect of a hard border on the island of Ireland. We will always ensure that the internal market of the UK, our own union of four nations, is better together.

But be in no doubt. The EU must now take this offer seriously. The PM has been unequivocal that there can be no blurring of our red lines, and no more concessions on our side. We have been exceptionally honest and upfront about the whole process from the start. The EU now has to come to the table prepared to discuss the future of our relationship, and agree the details of our transition period.

In the meantime we are making rapid progress on the preparations for a no deal Brexit; I am a member of the Cabinet sub-committee that is charged with making sure we are “day one ready” for all scenarios.  And we are getting on with it – legislation such as the Haulage Permits and Trailer Registration Act, which recently received Royal Assent, is specifically a ‘no deal only’ piece of legislation.

I continue to be optimistic about our future as we leave the EU.  As one of the world’s biggest economies, speaking the world’s international language of business, with world-leading universities carrying out ground-breaking research across the broad spectrum of new technologies, with the world’s most successful financial services sector, and boasting what is the best capital city on earth, our future is very bright.  Our globally outward, free trade supporting, democracy loving approach to relationships new and old across the world will stand us in good stead as we begin to forge a new chapter in our national story.