Despite what you may imagine from the fevered reporting, MPs have been conducting business in Parliament perfectly normally over the last week! In addition to Parliamentary Questions to the Treasury, Defence and Justice Departments, I spoke in debates on Education (addressing issues of direct relevance to local school funding); on protecting from abuse those with mental health conditions and on banning of mobile phone signals in prisons to prevent crime. Meetings included aircraft noise, Southern Rail and hosting a roundtable on pensions.
Locally I met the wonderful Phoenix Stroke Club, attended summer fetes, undertook surgeries in Horsham and Southwater, saw off the Shelley Bike Ride and enjoyed the Horsham Funday Sunday, brilliantly organised by Rotary and “Share Fair” run by Sussex Green Living. Conversation was dominated by the football and the heat wave!
Clearly in Westminster football is not the only topic of conversation, nor was my pensions’ roundtable the most reported event this week in Parliament….
I have worked closely with David Davis for two years, he has achieved a lot including piloting the EU Withdrawal Act and I am sorry to see him leave the Government.
Under the Act in March 2019 we will leave the EU, Parliament has voted for this and the Article 50 process is underway.
What was never going to be simple was agreeing a future relationship which retains existing economic benefits while securing trading and political freedoms. The agreed UK position honours the referendum decision. It means the UK will leave the EU and its commitment to ever closer political union; we will control our own borders and immigration policy; EU institutions will no longer be able to legislate into the UK and UK cases will no longer be settled at the ECJ; we will be outside of the “CAP” and control of our own fishing waters; we will resume our seat at the WTO and be free to agree our own trade deals (joining Australia, Canada and new Zealand, among many nations, in the Trans Pacific Partnership is a real prospect).
Our proposal allows free movement of goods across the UK/EU border – a prospect hugely welcomed by UK business and the many inward investors into the UK. It prevents a “hard border” in Ireland. The UK following a common rule book on agri-food and industrial goods (the EU rules on which have barely changed in 20 years and are mostly based on international agreements) is a practice from which the UK would in any event, I suspect, be most unlikely to deviate.
The proposal is ground-breaking, it needs to be negotiated and agreed. None of this will be simple and a pragmatic outcome will not please everyone. It can however work, it answers the questions the EU has been posing and the ball is now in their court. It is not the only option available to us and “no deal” preparations are also underway but there is a huge amount to be gained for both parties through a comprehensive settlement, alongside the UK honouring the referendum result and ensuring we leave the EU.
Photo caption: Jeremy Quin joined Louise Goldsmith and the West Sussex County Council Cabinet on Thursday evening in Horsham to meet young people from across the County to discuss issues of particular concern. Recycling, the environment and transport were very prominent.