This week the House of Commons will debate and vote on the necessary legislation to formally begin the process of the United Kingdom exiting the European Union. The Bill that has been presented to parliament gives the authority to the government to trigger the provisions contained within ‘Article 50’ of the Lisbon Treaty.
I will be voting in favour of the Bill. It is clear from the result of the referendum last year, that the British people want the UK to leave the EU, and parliament has a duty to carry out these wishes, and in so doing to make sure that the government secures the best possible terms for our exit. Over the next two years, we will be required to negotiate not just the practicalities of our departure but also the working arrangements for our new relationship with the EU from 2019 and beyond.
I believe that in voting the leave the EU, the British people have stated a clear wish that as as country we should be able to set an immigration policy, based on our own national legislation and not European laws. Also, that we want the freedom to be able to negotiate new trade agreements ourselves with our partners around the world. Both of these require us not just to be a non-member of the EU, but also outside of the European Single Market. Instead, we should negotiate a new free trade with the European Union, something that would clearly be in both of our interests. There may also be a wide range of areas where we would seek, out of national interest, to enter into bilateral agreements with the EU, which would continue our close working and cooperation across many issues.
Parliament will play an active role in scrutinising the process of the UK leaving the EU. As the head of the House of Commons Culture, Media and Sport select committee, I will also be chairing a series of meetings, starting this week, looking at the impact of Brexit on the creative industries, arts and tourism – all sectors which are important to the day to day life of many people in our area. Last week, I also spoke at a special conference in Brussels which was looking at issues concerning cross channel trade through the Port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel, as well as the idea of returning to the pre-single market rules concerning duty free shopping. It will be vital to our long term interests in Kent to make sure that we agree terms for managing trade with continental Europe, that will continue to allow goods to flow freely through the Channel Tunnel and Port of Dover, avoiding unnecessary customs checks and delays that could cause severe congestion on our roads. The construction of the Operation Stack relief lorry park, will also give us infrastructure to help manage the flow of freight to the continent should there be any delays in trade, but I want these to be avoided.