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It is clear that tonight’s vote is an historic event. I consider it an incredible honour to be in this Parliament at this time, and to be able to cast my vote for the Bill.
People often ask me how long I have been a Eurosceptic, and I often reply, “For as long as I knew what one was.” Growing up in Cornwall, I witnessed the impact of EU bureaucracy and regulation on our communities. I saw how it strangled our fishing communities, and overburdened our agricultural sector with red tape and bureaucracy that meant that businesses could not operate as they felt was best.
I waited for the outcome of the former Prime Minister’s negotiation before I decided how to cast my vote in the referendum. It became clear to me that, despite all the rhetoric, the EU was not willing or prepared to change, and was set on continuing on the course it had been on for some time. That was the final straw that made me decide that casting my vote for leave was the right thing to do. It was a great relief to me when the constituency I represent, St Austell and Newquay, agreed with me, with 62% voting to leave. I am in an easy position: it is not only my personal view but that of the vast majority of my constituents that we should leave the European Union. Since the referendum result, I am even more convinced that it was the right decision and the right thing to do.
I have detected a new confidence in our country: a new, positive, outward-looking approach. Despite all the predicted doom and gloom, business people I have spoken to have said that they are positive about the future. They want the Government to take a clear lead and to set a clear direction, so I welcome the Prime Minister’s approach to doing that, and her setting out where we are taking our country as we negotiate to leave. Clearly, all the “Project Fear” predictions of what would happen if we decided to leave have been proven completely unfounded, but when companies invest in the UK, the media say that they are doing so despite Brexit. Maybe, just maybe, they are investing here because of Brexit, and because they are confident about the future of our country.
Tonight’s historic vote gives us the opportunity to start writing a new chapter for our country, which has a long and great history of standing up positively, and looking at and engaging with the world. I view tonight’s vote as the next step in writing a new chapter for our great nation.