HAYES IN THE HOUSE: By MP John Hayes
It has been less than three months since the British people voted decisively to leave the European Union. With the seismic changes in Westminster since, it seems much longer. But the relative calm of summer has given us a chance to reflect upon what leaving means, and how it will happen.
First of all, we must be clear and unambiguous; the Government will implement the instruction of the British people - the UK will leave the European Union.
There are those who maintain misplaced hope (in some cases bordering on the delusional) that Brexit might not happen. They believe, erroneously, that Parliament could yet thwart the will of 17 million people; others suggest Britain could take a leaf out of the EU’s book and simply hold further referenda until the result changes. Neither of these products of denial should be taken seriously, which is why the machinery of Government is preparing for withdrawal – with talks formally commencing once we trigger Article 50.
For those of us who campaigned to leave it is tempting to wish for more rapid progress; tempting to ignore the fact that two new Government departments have been established - one to prepare for future international trade deals, the other to lay the foundations for our exit from the EU. Untangling all the statutes and regulations from Brussels which have become part of our legal system cannot be done overnight; it will take time because it’s right that we do it properly.
What’s more critical still is that Brexit really means Brexit. We won’t settle for a watered down version of the status quo in which Britain continues to pays huge contributions whilst being bound by red tape we don’t want. The ‘soft Brexit’ scenario where the UK remains in the single market in exchange for a temporary pause on immigration is a fudge which wouldn’t work and isn’t what the people voted for.
As the Prime Minister said last week, we are about getting a deal that is ambitious for Britain; we are the world’s fifth largest economy, unlike Norway or Switzerland, and so shouldn’t waste time looking at models which might be good enough for those countries, but are not right for us.
In my view there is nothing to fear from leaving the single market - we don’t need to be a member to trade with the countries in it, and certainly should not accept continued free movement of people as the price of such access.
Brexit is not about ending our relationship with Europe, it’s the beginning of a new one in which we make our own laws, spend money on our priorities, and decide an immigration policy that puts Britain first.
That’s what Britons voted for, and that’s what they deserve.