Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - OPINION - CH­ERYL GIL­LAN MP for Che­sham & Amer­sham

HAV­ING been re-ap­pointed as one of the Bri­tish mem­bers of the Coun­cil of Europe, the first meet­ing I am at­tend­ing comes at a crit­i­cal junc­ture, as all at­ten­tion is fo­cused on the de­tail of how Bri­tain will ful­fil the process of leav­ing the Euro­pean Union.

The Coun­cil of Europe is a body whose mem­bers are not drawn only from coun­tries which are mem­bers of the Euro­pean Union. It is there­fore one of those bod­ies on which the United King­dom will con­tinue to be rep­re­sented and a fo­rum for de­bate about the fu­ture di­rec­tion of Europe. I am also re­turn­ing to serve on the Po­lit­i­cal Af­fairs and Democ­racy Com­mit­tee.

We have also had a clear in­di­ca­tion now of the Gov­ern­ment’s 12 negotiating ob­jec­tives for leav­ing the Euro­pean Union, with the Prime Min­is­ter mak­ing a key­note speech on 17 Jan­uary. One of the main premises was that we are leav­ing the EU, not Europe. The new re­la­tion­ship will be one be­tween an in­de­pen­dent, self-gov­ern­ing United King­dom and Europe, re-draw­ing this coun­try’s global part­ner­ships.

Right at the top of the 12-point list was the as­sur­ance that both Houses of Par­lia­ment will have a vote about the fi­nal deal that is agreed be­tween the UK and the EU. That is an im­por­tant devel­op­ment as it shows that the PM is de­ter­mined to re­turn the power to our own Par­lia­ment. Con­trol of our own laws is vi­tal, as is strength­en­ing the Union within the United King­dom. In this coun­try we have built a dif­fer­ent model of de­vo­lu­tion, as against the cen­tralised ver­sion within the Euro­pean Union, where de­ci­sions are made by un­elected of­fi­cials with­out trans­parency or ac­count­abil­ity.

The ref­er­en­dum vote made clear that UK res­i­dents are con­cerned about con­trol of the num­ber of peo­ple who can come to Bri­tain from Europe. The rights of EU cit­i­zens liv­ing here and our cit­i­zens liv­ing in Europe, along with work­ers’ rights, are some­thing which we would wish to guar­an­tee dur­ing the ne­go­ti­a­tions. I have raised is­sues about the se­cu­rity of UK cit­i­zens and there will be co-op­er­a­tion in the fight against crime and ter­ror­ism.

On free trade, the goal is the freest pos­si­ble trade in goods and ser­vices, but not mem­ber­ship of the Sin­gle Mar­ket. There is op­por­tu­nity to ex­pand our trade across the globe. With many in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies in Che­sham & Amer­sham based on sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy, I was pleased the Prime Min­is­ter em­pha­sised how this coun­try will con­tinue to work with Euro­pean part­ners in re­search and other ini­tia­tives.

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