Do­minic Raab:

Brexit was a roar for change. Rad­i­cal reforms could rekin­dle those feel­ings of op­ti­mism

The Sunday Telegraph - - Front page - DO­MINIC RAAB Do­minic Raab is the MP for Esher and Wal­ton and a for­mer Brexit Sec­re­tary

On Tuesday, MPs will vote on the terms of the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posed Brexit deal with the Euro­pean Union. It is a bad deal, and Bri­tain can do bet­ter. It’s time to stop treat­ing Brexit as a gloomy book­keep­ing ex­er­cise in risk-man­age­ment. MPs should vote against the deal, send a clear mes­sage to Brus­sels that the UK will not be bul­lied – and de­liver the op­ti­mistic vi­sion that, in 2016, fired up the big­gest demo­cratic man­date for change we’ve ever seen.

When peo­ple voted Leave, it was a vote for change – a vote for hope over fear. Yet, this deal would keep us locked into swathes of EU laws with­out any demo­cratic say, threaten the in­tegrity of the UK, and pre­vent us from pur­su­ing an in­de­pen­dent trade policy. It suf­fo­cates the op­por­tu­ni­ties Brexit of­fers.

If MPs vote the deal down, we should con­tinue to press our EU part­ners for a deal that re­spects the ref­er­en­dum. If

EU in­tran­si­gence per­sists, we must be will­ing to leave the EU at the end of March on World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion terms. We’d be in a stronger po­si­tion, then, to con­tinue the ne­go­ti­a­tions as an in­de­pen­dent third coun­try.

Of course, this in­volves risks – and Gov­ern­ment has been care­fully preparing to man­age and mit­i­gate them. Through as­sid­u­ous plan­ning, the dy­namic Health Sec­re­tary Matt Han­cock has put paid to scare­mon­ger­ing that we would face a short­age of medicines.

De­trac­tors of Brexit quite rea­son­ably ask: what is your eco­nomic vi­sion? Amid the 500 pages of tech­ni­cal de­tail in the With­drawal Agree­ment and the Eey­or­ish pre­dic­tions of doom and gloom, we’ve lost sight of the op­ti­mism that Brexit in­spired. It must be a spring­board to de­liver change – in­clud­ing a bet­ter econ­omy that serves work­ers and con­sumers, and takes on the vested in­ter­ests hold­ing Bri­tain back.

The UK should be a global leader in free trade, re­mov­ing tar­iffs and break­ing down bar­ri­ers to trade. We want to keep trad­ing with our Euro­pean part­ners, but the growth mar­kets lie be­tween Latin Amer­ica and Asia. Re­duc­ing bar­ri­ers to trade is a sure way of boost­ing small and medium sized en­ter­prises and rais­ing pro­duc­tiv­ity – to cre­ate the jobs for the next gen­er­a­tion, raise wages for work­ers, and cut prices in the shops to ease the cost of liv­ing for work­ing Bri­tons. That’s who Brexit is for.

Brexit was also a broader ap­peal to take on vested in­ter­ests, and that should gal­vanise re­form at home too. Cap­i­tal­ism is un­der as­sault like never be­fore. The prospect of a hard left gov­ern­ment un­der Jeremy Cor­byn and John McDon­nell is a very real and present dan­ger to this coun­try. The best way to de­fend the in­tegrity of the free mar­ket is to lib­er­ate rigged sec­tors from mo­nop­o­lies that rip off con­sumers, and guar­an­tee that cap­i­tal­ism works for the eco­nomic lit­tle guy – not cor­po­rate cronies.

From en­ergy bills to mo­bile phones, con­sumers are be­ing short-changed in sec­tors where a small num­ber of big busi­nesses con­trol the mar­ket. The an­swer is not clumsy state intervention, which only makes mat­ters worse. We need a far more ro­bust and rig­or­ous com­pe­ti­tion-driven re­form agenda that breaks down bar­ri­ers to en­try, al­low­ing chal­lenger firms to of­fer wider choice and bet­ter deals to con­sumers. We need more trans­parency in pric­ing, for ex­am­ple, an end to the hid­den charges in buy­ing for­eign cur­rency that pe­nalise fam­i­lies who have saved to take a hard earned hol­i­day.

On Mon­day, at the Cen­tre for Policy Stud­ies, I will join this news­pa­per’s Cam­paign for Cap­i­tal­ism with a speech setting out reforms that can save con­sumers – from stu­dents to pen­sion­ers – hun­dreds of pounds each year. I want to see this backed up with stronger pow­ers for the Com­pe­ti­tion and Mar­kets Au­thor­ity to issue anti-com­pet­i­tive be­hav­iour orders, or ACBOs, against firms that are fleec­ing con­sumers.

That post-Brexit vi­sion for the UK econ­omy should be re­in­forced with a tax-cut­ting agenda that fo­cuses on the low­est-paid work­ers, and leg­is­la­tion to em­power share­hold­ers to veto ex­or­bi­tant ex­ec­u­tive pay pack­ets and fire in­com­pe­tent chief ex­ec­u­tives – on no­tice – with­out the added in­sult of a Golden Good­bye.

That is how Con­ser­va­tives can an­swer Brexit’s clar­ion call for change, forge a com­pelling, authen­tic and op­ti­mistic agenda that of­fers as­pi­ra­tional work­ing and mid­dle-class Bri­tons a brighter fu­ture, and stave off the threat of a hard-left Labour gov­ern­ment.


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