We are leaving the European Union. Many readers may have thought that this news was established last June. For those less sure, the Prime Minister’s speech this week should leave no one in any doubt that Britain will be leaving not just the EU but the single market and its customs union. In so doing, our country will be free to set its own border controls, laws and new trade deals with the rest of the world.
Before I became your MP, I was a negotiator for the Lehman Brothers bankruptcy estate. We were recovering assets and settling claims worth tens of billions. This experience taught me that it was always wise to ensure the other side started with a blank piece of paper. In saying ‘No deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain’ the Prime Minister has ensured that when it comes to negotiations with the EU, we can be confident with our aims.
For those who believe that our EU partners will wreak revenge, there are £269bl of trade export reasons from the 27 EU countries to suggest that they will want to continue to trade on a tariff free basis with the UK. If our EU neighbours do impose tariffs on the goods we export to them then we will have to do likewise. This will impact on their exports and businesses more than our own. Let’s hope the reality of this avoids it occurring.
The Prime Minister was making her speech in Lancaster House whilst I was in the House of Commons asking the Chancellor about policies to help first time buyers get on the property ladder - numbers are now at their highest since pre-crash days. Whilst it would have been good to hear the Prime Minister deliver her vision of our place in Europe in the Parliament which will reclaim its sovereignty, it was perhaps better that the ambassadors from the EU were in the audience to digest the news first hand.
Parliament will have a lot of work to do in order to repeal EU laws, save the legislation we want to preserve and make new laws which our membership previously denied. I have just been elected to the Procedure Committee, a group of 12 cross-party MPs who help set the terms of business and legislation in the House of Commons. Last week, we spent time with government lawyers to discuss what the great EU repeal bill would look like. As a committee, most of us are keen to ensure the bill lifts us out of EU membership but does not cause all legislation to collapse and leave huge holes in our legal framework. We are keen to use the concept of ‘saving’ clauses to ensure we do not have to re-legislate the laws which are underpinned by EU membership and may make sense to keep (we know that 5,000 items of legislation are impacted, it could be as many as 20,000). I am conscious that many people would welcome a bonfire of laws but many of these will still be needed to allow us to do the basics such as dispense medicine and keep our water clean.
I understand why Parliament’s lawyers are cautious about the amount of work required. However, Parliament, like the Prime Minister and her negotiating team, will have to take a few risks. The UK will continue to be a friend and trading partner with each of the remaining 27 EU countries. The best negotiated settlements are those where both sides are happy with the deal on offer if they have to work together in the future. This is why I do not believe we will see restrictions on trade or travel.
I am looking forward to playing my part as your MP.