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It is an honour to follow Hannah Bardell, who gave an interesting speech.
Without the iconic and much-loved bongs of Big Ben, the Palace of Westminster might appear to be diminished, but the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill will ensure that this Palace is more sovereign and more accountable, with or without its hourly chimes. The Bill will restore this nation’s sovereignty, the supremacy of this Parliament and the self-determination of the British people. The final word on law will be ours, and I am happy to trust the judgment of our Supreme Court rather than the European Court of Justice. The British people will ultimately be entirely in control of the direction of our country. If they do not like what they see here in Parliament and do not feel represented by their MPs, they can vote us out. That is not the case for unelected, unaccountable Eurocrats.
This Bill is the logical next step in leaving the EU—what the public have trusted us to do. The key point of this Bill is to provide certainty as to how the law will apply after we leave the EU. This is an unprecedented period in our history, which is why so much has been, and will continue to be, debated, but to vote against this Bill is purely political game playing and ignoring the will of the British public. The public have a right to ask objecting Members who argue against converting EU regulations and law into domestic law on exit day where their objections were when the laws were enacted in Brussels and enforced on us in the first place.
The Bill maximises stability and certainty, which is what our economy needs and what our businesses require and deserve. The Bill ensures that consumers have clarity about their protection, that employees have clarity about their rights, that businesses have certainty, and, fundamentally, that rights and protections are enforceable through the UK courts, which are renowned the world over.
Many Wealden businesses and farms from Hailsham, Uckfield and Crowborough have raised their concerns over EU red tape. Many Wealden businesses are small. Like the national average, only 5% export to the EU, but 100% are caught by red tape, which makes setting up, recruiting and exporting more difficult. Brexit and this Bill start an opportunity to create business and farming environments that work for all businesses, whether they are global or just local.
I impress on the Government the need to fully consult business representatives. In Wealden we have dozens of vineyards, many farms and cutting-edge science and tech businesses. They should be consulted and their concerns should be addressed. Consultation is key in these exciting times ahead for the UK outside the EU.
Brexit presents us with not only an opportunity to become a sovereign nation once again, but countless opportunities beyond our own waters. Negotiating as one country, we can strike free trade deals unhindered by the need to get the signature of 27 other countries. We will be able to agree our own terms with not just our friends in Europe, but the ambitious entrepreneurialism of the rest of the world. I cannot be the only Member who believes that the patronising, out-of-touch and out-of-date European elites need to get over their obsession that the future lies solely in western Europe. In reality, it is Asia, Africa and South America that are brimming with the skills, ability and talent that will shape this century. We have an exciting opportunity to trade in goods and expertise, and to help to share prosperity in not only this country, but these new emerging markets.
I seem to have an extra moment to speak, so I shall also touch on Michel Barnier, as the hon. Member for Livingston referred to him. Michel Barnier’s recent comments about our moral and legal obligations to support development in third world countries has not gone down well in my constituency. As one of only five EU member states to meet the UN’s 0.7% foreign aid spending goal, and just one of four to meet NATO’s 2% spending target on defence, we will take no lectures from Brussels about supporting those less fortunate than us. My constituents want to know who are Brussels to talk to us about supporting developing nations when the common agricultural policy has for so long immorally and unfairly held African farmers back? Brexit allows us to treat Africa as equals and enables people there to decide their own destiny without financial discrimination from European elites.
Opportunities abound with Brexit. Although the media narrative and some Opposition Members suggest that it will be doom and gloom, I do not see things that way. I admit that some of what we hope for will be difficult, but I will never accept judgment for being ambitious for my country.