On Wednesday the Prime Minister triggered Article 50. The United Kingdom is now leaving the European Union. There have been lots of different thoughts on this, see mine:
Category Archives: EU Referendum
In the run-up to the referendum, I believed that the considerable short-term risks of leaving the European Union outweighed the unquantifiable future benefits, but I underestimated the deep mistrust of the European Union.
The people have decided to leave. I must respect that decision, and I will support this Bill.
The hard work now begins. For example, how do we access the benefits of free trade and the inspection-free transfer of goods from outside EU structures such as the single market and the customs union? Some believe that nothing is possible, but that the alternative to working for success is to hope that things go badly—even to will it—to be ceaselessly critical and, ultimately, to achieve only an echo of Private Fraser’s lament, “We’re all doomed.”
Although none of us has perfect foresight, I am absolutely confident that we will have much greater success in lining up future free trade agreements than some people have suggested.
The negotiations will begin soon. In my view, we need an agreement in which we are generous to Europeans living here, enthusiastic in our continuation of academic and research co-operation, and resolute in our solidarity with Europe on defence and security.
In that agreement, we must be practical about ways of controlling immigration but welcoming to skills, tourists and entrepreneurs; we must be free of the European Court of Justice, but never compromise on standards or the rule of law; and we must be adventurous in pursuing our own trade deals, but never underestimate the importance of free trade and easy customs clearance in all that we do with Europe.
That is what I hope the Government’s White Paper will lay out. I hope that it will bring our one nation of diverse parts together. Whatever our concerns about the journey, we should start positively, not cynically.
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The Gloucester MP said, “The Prime Minister’s speech should put an end to the boiled egg debate – ‘hard’ and soft’ Brexit. I totally agree our aim should be for the closest possible relationship on defence and security as well as all research, science and technology: for the rights of EU citizens here and ours there to be protected; for free trade between us and for a customs arrangement so that our goods are not inspected.
At the same time she has absolutely honoured the will of the people in recognising that leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market, and bringing back control of our laws and immigration. One of the key questions (understandably) not discussed in detail was the shape of transitional arrangements. That is a crucial part of the talks, and Theresa May will not want to give our position away.
I hope most of my constituents will welcome her speech – and especially the decision for a vote by Parliament on the result of the negotiations. This recognises the sovereignty of Parliament. I’ve no doubt my constituents will tell me their views before that crucial vote!”
This is my reaction to the PM’s speech today outlining the Way Forward on Brexit – and her ambitions for Global Britain.
I hope that most of my constituents will agree with the main points and there is an important point for us all: at the end of the negotiations there will be a vote in Parliament.
Let me know your reactions on firstname.lastname@example.org
I’ve made it absolutely clear on national and local media and in the House of Commons that the people have spoken: we promised before the Referendum that their will would be implemented, and it will be. If the Supreme Court decides we need a parliamentary vote to trigger Article 50, then of course I will vote for that.
The issue is now about the terms of our withdrawal. It won’t be easy and we have a duty to make the best possible arrangements. I wrote before the Referendum that a decision to leave involved significant short term risk for possible longer term gains. That remains true: and we now have to mitigate the risks and take advantage of the opportunities as best we can. You can depend on me to play my part in delivering that.
Richard Graham (Gloucester) (Con)
I totally support the Government’s position not to rush into triggering article 50. I welcome the Secretary of State’s comments. He knows how important access to the single market is both for our own businesses and for inward investors from growth markets such as Asia. Does my right hon. Friend agree that just as we are currently in the European Union but have various opt-outs, so in due course we shall be out of the European Union but have the ability to continue arrangements that work well for all sides, for example Europol and the European health insurance card from which so many British families benefit?
Mr Davis (The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union)
The first premise is returning power to this Government and this Parliament. How they deploy that power is entirely up to them. I would think any sensible Government would be involved in mutually beneficial activity. Israel subscribes to some European research operations and it is nowhere near being a member of the European Union. In those terms, my hon. Friend’s point is well made.
It is a conundrum for all of us involved.
Despite huge efforts by David Cameron’s government – large trade missions led by him as PM and other senior ministers, innovations like Trade Envoys, the hugely successful GREAT campaign, training funding for an enormous increase of apprentices, money invested in hi tech sectors like aerospace, Growth Fund awards locally, reductions in corporate tax and tax breaks for business on R&D and capital allowances – our productivity has not increased and exports aren’t growing fast enough to cover our appetite for foreign goods: and our trade deficit has recently widened again.
Prime Minister Theresa May will want to see our exports grow, but we now also have the new challenge of re-negotiating our trade relations with Europe, destination for 44% of our exports. Tough times ahead?
I see the situation like the two Chinese characters for crisis: wei ji or ‘danger opportunity’. On the one hand we need to protect crucial exports to the EU like our cars, aerospace, whisky and services, which might otherwise suffer: and on the other we need to be nimble and seize the opportunity of no longer outsourcing our trade deals to a third party.
That requires increasing the numbers of our trade negotiators, opening informal dialogue now with close Commonwealth and Growth Market allies on the potential for bilateral deals and adopting a more entrepreneurial approach across business and government. Ministers can again lead on the trade diplomacy the FCO was once famous for, armed with cyber, fin tech and creative media expertise: more Trade Envoys could be recruited to support relationships in key markets and our beefed up Prosperity Fund deployed in markets most willing to expand bilateral trade.
Already there are encouraging noises in ASEAN, and this region should be one priority, but there are plenty of others. For those frustrated by our inability as EU members to launch wider Commonwealth trade agreements (I created the APPG for the Commonwealth), a mooted Commonwealth Trade Ministers meeting in London early next year and the 2018 CHOGM (in the UK) take on an exciting new dimension. We should start by identifying a coalition of the willing to kick start informal talks.
BIS Secretary Sajid Javid and Trade Minister Mark (Lord) Price, with their business backgrounds, are aware of both the dangers and opportunities, but the machinery of government will need to drop some of its institutional caution and enfranchise Heads of Mission and Trade Envoys to work even more closely with business and get things moving.
Inevitably the government will have to look at the FCO budget, which is slightly lower than the level of fraud in the DWP. There may also be opportunities for DFID to fund (for example) all of the BBC World Service, freeing up more money. I feel there is no time to be lost in expanding our trade diplomacy, for business generates almost 75% of taxation directly and indirectly: our public services depend on our business growth.
The good news is that good business is being done. Last week BP signed off on a giant further $8 billion investment in Indonesian offshore gas – creating 10,000 jobs there and generating long term earnings that support many pensioners here. Likewise the Malaysian investment in the former Battersea Power Station is the biggest single regeneration project of its kind in Europe. Big, bold bilateral projects like these – invariably needing government support – show the way forward, and we must focus as much on seizing the opportunities across the seas as managing the risks closer to home.
Can I thank hundreds of you together for your comments about the referendum and related issues. Very few, if any of you, raised all the points covered below, but most of you raised more than one issue so I hope this is helpful.
1 Don’t leave the EU
I have had many emails from constituents who’ve signed a petition calling for a second referendum: some of whom have also asked me not to recognise the result of the referendum.
However much any of us regret the result, we are all (and MPs especially) servants of democracy: the country has voted and we must implement the collective view as best we can: exploring all aspects of ‘getting back control’ while retaining, where possible, key parts of the current relationship, like free trade.
We lost the debate and have to recognise that, and all do our best to learn the lessons and implement the decision as best possible. So we must find the opportunities and manage the risks: it will all take time, and will need patience.
2 David Cameron
Some of you have blamed the Prime Minister for the referendum, or asked that he shouldn’t resign. I understand the feelings involved. I also think that he was the best Prime Minister that we could have, and I knew instinctively that he would resign: David Cameron is a decent man who has done what he believes is the decent thing for 11 years as Party Leader. He will stay to see through a leadership election (I imagine) in September, before the Party Conference.
3 The Future of the United Kingdom
There are no facts about the future: only different ideas, and it’s down to individual judgement regarding whose view will prove right. There are discussions very soon on the Northern Ireland border with Stormont leaders and the Irish PM. My belief is that they will resist formal border crossings and passport checks, at least for now, and that this important relationship in the EU will be relatively unscathed.
I don’t believe Nicola Sturgeon wants to hold a referendum unless she is sure to win. My judgement is that isn’t the case at the moment, but she will have to decide: and the Westminster government would need to agree to any further referendum. In any event she and other administrations will have a role in the Brexit discussions and options.
4 What happens next
The Conservative leadership election to replace David Cameron as Leader and Prime Minister starts this week and will likely finish in September. The new government will then decide when to trigger Article 50. Once triggered, negotiators will be sent to the EU to discuss an exit deal. This must be agreed by a majority of the EU member states (not including the UK) and the process has a two year deadline. After which I believe there will be an approval process for the replacement of the 1972 European Communities Act in Parliament.
There is unlikely to be a General Election, in my view, given the fixed Term of Parliament Act that commits us to an election in 2020. I cannot see that being repealed in normal circumstances.
Whatever happens, there is plenty to be done in Gloucester including many projects here not reliant on the EU, from the new Health University Technical College that we are applying for, to physical regeneration, more culture and more housing. This will go on, and the government will continue to govern while we negotiate what happens next with the EU.
5 Thank you
Thank you for many emails in the past week, after the tragic death of Jo Cox MP. Nothing I do, or the way I do it, will change in any way.
I voted to remain, but Gloucester and the country voted to leave. I respect this decision and will work to get the best deal possible for us and our country.
Above all let us focus, as Jo Cox said, on what we have in common – which is far more than what divides us – and differ with politeness, and unite where we can. I hope that we can all pull together again as soon as possible.