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[1st Day]

Part of Debate on the Address – in the House of Commons at 6:22 pm on 21st June 2017.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 6:22 pm, 21st June 2017

I am not allowed very long and I wish others to join in the debate.

My last point is that when we look at our massive balance of payments deficit—£70 billion on trade account with the EU last year—we see how much scope there is when we are allowed to run, for example, our own fishing and farming policy, to substitute home production and home supply for imported supply. That will create jobs, reduce food miles and make a much better contribution to our economy, because a big part of the £70 billion trade deficit last year was in food and drink and fishing. It is almost unbelievable that the country with far and away the richest fishing ground in the whole EU, and which used to be a major exporter of fish before we joined the European Economic Community, is now a net importer of fish and has so few active fishing boats. I am quite sure that this House, on a multi-party basis, can sit down and design a much better fishing policy than the one we have struggled under for 40 years or more in the EEC and the EU, one that will create more jobs, more capacity, more investment and more home fishing. As I put it, we can have a policy that is kinder to the fish and kinder to the fishermen and women, and it is our task to design it.

Of course we are going to have lots of political disagreements, and I am never shy of political argument, as colleagues will know, but we also have a unique opportunity to show that where it matters—on jobs, prosperity, home ownership and promoting better opportunities for our young people—there are huge opportunities in Brexit. Let us, for example, start with a fishing policy and an agricultural policy that are better for Britain and better for all of them.