MP for Faversham and Mid Kent
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.