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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 7:33 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of Bill Cash Bill Cash Conservative, Stone 7:33 pm, 21st June 2017

I support the Gracious Speech, except the proposal for a Bill on HS2, which I shall oppose, as I have done so far. I will support my constituents relentlessly on that matter.

I turn to Brexit. [Laughter.] What a surprise! Leaving the European Union is a given, even for my right hon. and learned Friend Mr Clarke. It follows that we will leave the single market and the customs union, as stated in the article 50 notification letter and in our manifesto. I disagree with my right hon. and learned Friend on the question of the single market and the customs union. The European Union Referendum Act 2015 was passed by a massive majority. In the referendum itself, there was a clear majority for leave. The European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 passed in this House by 498 to 114 Members. At the general election, 85% of all constituencies voted for Members of Parliament to deliver the referendum result. We will soon debate the repeal Bill—I think it is somewhat based on a Bill I put forward a few months ago—which is the consequence of our leaving the treaties, as laid down in the 2017 Act. We will not now be governed by other member states, or by any cohort dominated by one in particular: Germany, which we increasingly find is the EU in all but name. We will regain our sovereignty, law-making powers, borders and money, and we will run our own affairs, as we did for century after century before 1972.

The economic, political and constitutional nature of our leaving provides us with a historic economic and political opportunity. As the Chancellor rightly said in his Mansion House speech—as well as on “The Andrew Marr Show” last week—during the general election campaign insufficient attention was paid to our success on the economy. Despite the commentariat’s recent reports on his speech stating that there would necessarily be a loss of sovereignty, I can find no explicit reference to that in his speech. He was completely right to emphasise the great economic progress we have made since 2009: we grew faster than any other major advanced economy bar Germany; business has created 3.4 million more private sector jobs; and the deficit is down by three quarters. At the same time, we have lowered income tax for 31 million people and taken 4 million people out of income tax altogether.

I do not think the Chancellor mentioned our foreign direct investment, which soared to £197 billion in 2016—up from £33 billion in 2015, according to the OECD. That is an incredible record, and we are now the primary foreign direct investment destination in Europe on the back of our successful economic policies. At 4.5%, unemployment is at its lowest since 1975. Compare that with unemployment in other member states and, in the context of those who voted Labour in the general election, with the massive 40% youth unemployment in so many other member states.