Last Wednesday, Her Majesty The Queen conducted the State Opening of Parliament following the general election. The central focus of The Queen’s Speech setting out the government’s programme for the next two years was the legislation required to deliver Britain’s exit from the European Union. In Kent, we live on the frontier between Britain and continental Europe, and it is vital to our local interests that we get the right deal, in particular, in terms of managing trade and immigration.
The work required to make Brexit a reality is mainly twofold. There are the formal negotiations with the European Union, which commenced last Monday and are being led for Britain by David Davis. These negotiations do not determine whether or not Britain leaves the EU, that has already been decided by the referendum. The purpose of these talks is to discuss our future relationship with the EU, and to settle issues like the reciprocal rights of British and EU citizens living in our respective territories.
The second important part of the work that needs to be done to prepare for Britain’s departure from the EU is to create new UK legislation to replace the European rules by which we are currently bound. The measures in the Queen’s Speech to deliver this include the Repeal Bill which will establish many of the rules and regulations regarding trade and business into UK law, and under the jurisdiction of British courts. This will help to provide clarity to businesses and individuals that the day to day rules and regulations that we don’t want to be affected by Brexit will continue once we have left the EU.
The Queen’s Speech also includes an Immigration Bill that will gives us control of the number of people coming here from Europe, while allowing us to continue attracting the brightest and the best to work here. The proposed new Trade Bill and a new Customs Bill will enable the United Kingdom to conduct its own independent trade policy, helping British businesses trade with thriving markets around the world. There is also a new Fisheries Bill will allow us to control access to our territorial waters after we leave the EU.
On Monday this week, the government agreed its working relationship with the Democratic Unionist Party of Northern Ireland (DUP) to ensure its support in parliament. As I have previously written, the DUP will not become members of the government, this is not a coalition like the one formed between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in 2010. The support given by the DUP to the government will be limited to ensuring that we can pass the Queen’s Speech, deliver on the necessary Brexit legislation, and to avoid the calling of another general election through the passing of a motion of no confidence. At this time, we need a period of stability in order to carry through these important negotiations on Brexit.