He­len Whately

MP for Faver­sham and Mid Kent

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - COMMENT -

It’s swel­ter­ing in Par­lia­ment – and tem­pers are run­ning high over Brexit. But I’ve been try­ing to keep a cool head and fig­ure out what’s best for Kent.

The EU has put two mod­els of fu­ture re­la­tion­ship on the ta­ble. The first is a stan­dard Free Trade Agree­ment, with North­ern Ire­land stay­ing in the cus­toms union and parts of the sin­gle mar­ket. This would leave North­ern Ire­land cut off from the rest of the UK. That’s not ac­cept­able.

The sec­ond is es­sen­tially mem­ber­ship of the EEA and the Cus­toms Union. This would mean con­tin­ued free move­ment, we’d still be pay­ing into the EU, we’d still have to fol­low EU law (but with very lim­ited in­flu­ence) and no free trade deals. This would achieve very few of the am­bi­tions of Brexit.

I’ve been warned by busi­nesses that cus­toms checks at the bor­der would be dif­fi­cult to cope with, and if there are de­lays, we’ll bear the brunt of the queues in Kent.

The Prime Min­ster’s pro­posal ends free move­ment, ends the ju­ris­dic­tion of the ECJ over the UK, ends huge pay­ments to the EU ev­ery year, and gives us the free­dom to make trade deals.

The Prime Min­is­ter’s plan does mean agree­ing to com­mon reg­u­la­tions on goods – the ‘Com­mon Rule Book’. But we’d have our own agri­cul­ture and fish­eries poli­cies, and set our own rules for ser­vices – our most im­por­tant ex­port mar­ket worth more than £140 bil­lion. With such a close and pas­sion­ately fought ref­er­en­dum cam­paign, it was al­ways go­ing to be tough to suit every­one. But so far, I haven’t heard a cred­i­ble al­ter­na­tive.

This plan is the best chance we have of bring­ing our di­vided coun­try to­gether – it re­spects the ref­er­en­dum re­sult by get­ting us out of the EU and pro­tects the in­comes of peo­ple whose jobs de­pend on trade with the EU.

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