Since the referendum result last June people and businesses in Amber Valley have been keen to understand exactly what Brexit will look like. I therefore welcomed the clear statements of the Government’s plan recently set out by the Prime Minister, and I’m pleased that a white paper outlining our formal strategy for exiting the EU will also soon be published.
The over 60% of people in Amber Valley who voted for Brexit wanted 3 main changes: our Parliament to be in control of laws that applied in the UK, immigration to be controlled and an end to our £10 billion net contribution to the EU.
I was always clear that these would mean leaving the EU’s internal single market. The EU had been clear that to stay in we would have to accept free movement, but we would also have to let the EU regulate sizeable and increasing aspects of our daily lives without us having a say. This would in no way represent taking back control. Similarly, staying in the Customs Union would mean us applying the EU’s chosen tariffs and leave us unable to conclude the free trade deals with countries around the world that will be key to economic growth in the future.
The Prime Minister was therefore right to say that what we want is as free a trading arrangement with the EU as can possibly be agreed. And, I hope and expect that when it comes to the negotiations the remaining EU members will see that this is clearly in their interests as well given the sizeable trade surplus they enjoy with us.
Of course we want to maintain close cooperation on many other areas including security and policing, and it is absolutely in our interests to see the EU growing and thriving – they will remain our closest trading partners. Many of these arrangements operate on a wider basis than the EU anyway so there should be no issue continuing them.
We will shortly trigger Article 50 to begin negotiations for our exit. Following Tuesday’s decision by the Supreme Court, Parliament must first have a vote next week, but I don’t foresee any issue with the Houses approving this. Parliament backed the referendum by a margin of six to one and has already indicated its support for getting on with the process of exit to the timetable as planned.
I believe it would be in everyone’s interests for progress to be made quickly. This will give EU nationals in the UK, and UK nationals across the EU, the certainty that they can stay. It will also give businesses the certainty they need to plan and invest for the future.
We also need to decide what key aspects of government policy will look like. I would like an early announcement that after we leave EU nationals will be able to travel here without a visa for holiday or short business visits but will need work permits to take up a job. We can then ensure that people who come – and we will need a lot of them – have the skills we need. This again will reassure local employers that they won’t suffer unnecessary skill shortages, while ensuring local people have a greater chance of employment.
In a similar way, the Government’s new modern Industrial Strategy will help businesses in Amber Valley capitalise on the opportunities presented by Brexit. In particular, the Strategy will support businesses to grow and create more high skilled, high paid local jobs by investing in skills, supporting the development of major infrastructure projects and improving access to finance for businesses.
The coming months will be very important but I welcome the clear sense of direction and certainty set out by the Prime Minister in her recent speeches, as a smooth and orderly Brexit will be in the best interests of all Amber Valley residents.