My position on Brexit remains that the referendum result was narrow but decisive and must be respected.
This is why I voted to trigger Article 50, which began a timetabled process of withdrawal. The UK will leave the EU on March 29 next year.
The debate is about what kind of Brexit is best for the UK. It would be foolish to ignore companies like Jaguar Land Rover who are genuinely concerned about maintaining frictionless trade with the EU. It matters a great deal for jobs and our prosperity to retain business confidence and the best possible access to our largest market.
But we also have other key objectives. We want to protect the City of London from damaging regulation. We want to control our borders, which rules out membership of the European Economic Area. We want to strike our own trade deals, which rules out membership of the Customs Union. And we want to ensure that there is neither a border between Ireland and Northern Ireland or within the UK, which rules out a simple “Canada-style” UK-EU free trade agreement.
The Chequers plan is a pragmatic attempt to reconcile these aims. A UK-EU free trade area for goods, with a ‘common rule book’, will ensure that we can continue to buy and sell without barriers, addressing the concerns of employers. Crucially, this will not be the same as being subject to the direct jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and Parliament will control future regulation.
The bulk of our economy, including fast-growing services, will be completely outside the EU’s regulatory orbit. We will leave EU institutions such as the Common Fisheries and Foreign policies, and we will be able to control our borders. We will solve the Irish border problem, and we will be able to strike our own trade deals.
This plan is not giving in to Brussels – it is not what the EU has proposed, and will be difficult for them to accept. It is not a betrayal of the referendum result, and the UK will not become a colony. Such language is inflammatory nonsense.
The plan is balanced and sensible. No other proposal has been made which enables us to implement the referendum decision while reconciling our key objectives on jobs, UK borders or the freedom to strike trade deals. I think we should back it – and give our full support the Prime Minister in the tough negotiations ahead.
You can find further information, including the highlights of my diary on my website: www.nickherbert.com.
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