In the 2016 referendum, some two thirds of the voters in Dover & Deal voted to leave the European Union. The decision was clear – to take back control of our borders, laws, money and trade.
I have reviewed carefully the proposed EU Withdrawal Agreement. I have grave doubts about it for the following reasons:
1. In the EU we have a say and we can leave. Under this proposal we will effectively stay in the EU, but have no say and can never leave. It is like Hotel California – you can check out any time you like but you can never leave. Indeed President Macron is already looking to take advantage – warning the UK will be trapped forever in the so-called "backstop" unless we cave in on fishing.
2. This proposal fails to honour the referendum mandate. We will not take back control of our laws, waters, money or trade.
3. It fails to honour the Conservative Manifesto. We will not leave the EU's single market or customs union in any meaningful way. Nor will we make the Supreme Court supreme again as the European Court of Justice will still hold sway over us.
4. Northern Ireland would be treated differently from the rest of the UK. It effectively creates a border down the Irish Sea. This undermines our precious union which cannot be acceptable.
5. The Future Relationship political declaration is just that – a declaration not a treaty. Should £39 billion of your hard-earned money be spent on a promise rather than a legally enforceable trade treaty?
It would be better instead to enter a Canada style trade agreement with the EU. There is still time for the Prime Minister to change course and deliver a better deal for Britain. A deal that honours the referendum mandate and enables us to depart the EU as friends.
In coming to this conclusion, I have also thought deeply about the impact on our community. On the one hand I have a clear instruction for the UK to leave the EU. On the other many are concerned that if we leave the EU without agreement it would make trade across the English Channel harder. That the result would be queues of lorries across Kent and that cross-Channel trade and Dover would both suffer.
That's why after the referendum I called a summit of the ports and transport industry to see how systems could be devised to ensure the Dover-Calais route continues to be a success. Together we drew up a blueprint with a detailed plan setting out how we can be ready on day one, deal or no deal. Sadly, the Government failed to properly prepare for no deal as they should have. So 'no deal' could be challenging for our area in the short-term, if the EU try to punish us and take advantage of our lack of preparation.
This is an important time in the history of our nation. A time for political courage. We don't need to be bullied by the EU into this bad deal. Deal or no deal is a false choice. The Prime Minister should go and seek a better deal for Britain to become a free-trading, global nation once again. I believe our greatest days are not behind us – they are yet to come.
Here you can read about local news matters and what I've been up to. You can make comments too. I'd welcome your feedback, so please do feel free to comment!