The Port of Dover is a huge success story. More than £120 billion of trade moves through our docks every year. When you add in Eurotunnel, the Channel Ports account for about a third of the UK's trade in goods.
This is good for business – and good for Britain. And EU nations do very well out of this too. They sell twice as much to us as we do to them. It is very much in their interests to keep this trade flowing.
That's why suggestions that the French will grind the Port of Calais to a halt – unless we hand over £39 billion, even in the event of no deal – are frankly ridiculous. Everyone knows this would hurt French farmers and German car-makers more than us. Any sort of extra tariffs or slow-down in traffic would hit them twice as hard.
It seems these empty threats emanate from the Élysée Palace in Paris. Fortunately Xavier Bertrand, the forward-thinking boss of the Calais and Dunkirk region, takes the opposite view to President Macron. Mr Bertrand knows that the Port of Dover is an economic powerhouse – that benefits both the people of Calais and Kent. He wants to do the right thing, keep trade flowing and look after the people he serves.
In stark contrast, President Macron and the EU want to bully us into accepting a bad deal. They think Britain's greatest days are past and that we must be punished for daring to leave. Here at the Dover frontline, we know what it takes to face up to bullies. Now, as a nation, we need to show the EU how wrong they really are about the British people.
We need to believe in Britain and strike a deal that works for us. A deal that delivers on the historic vote of 2016 by taking back control of our laws, borders, money and trade.
Detailed legal analysis shows we don't owe the EU a penny. In fact, they owe us £10 billion! However, if they offer us an advanced trade deal that works for us, we should consider what a fair price might be.
To strengthen our hand in the negotiations further, we need to turbocharge preparations to leave the EU on World Trade terms. The truth is that this work should have started the day after the 2016 referendum. I have long argued that we need to be ready on day one for every eventuality – deal or no deal.
There is still time to make a difference – if we make real investment at our borders now. We need to expand off-road motorway lorry parking facilities like at Stop 24 on the M20. The M2/A2 to Dover should be upgraded and fully dualled. And we should modernise our border systems and become a world leader in frictionless trade and security.
Why is it so important to agree a deal with the EU that works for us? Because so many countries – like Australia, the US, China, India, Singapore and Japan – are waiting in the wings, ready to strike free trade deals with us. We cannot let this historic opportunity slip.
That's why we must show real political courage, refuse to be bullied – and take back control of our destiny. Only if we hold firm and believe in Britain can we truly become a free-trading, global nation once again. Our greatest days are not behind us – they are ahead of us.
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!