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[2nd Allotted Day]

Part of Immigration (Time Limit on Detention) – in the House of Commons at 4:26 pm on 5th December 2018.

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Photo of John Redwood John Redwood Conservative, Wokingham 4:26 pm, 5th December 2018

I do not prejudge the evil intents of other Members. I hope that all Members will agree that we must implement the referendum result. We had a general election in the summer of last year, and I remember that in that general election Labour and the Conservatives got rather more than 80% of the vote in Great Britain, the Democratic Unionist party did extremely well in Northern Ireland, and all three parties said that they would faithfully implement the referendum decision of United Kingdom voters on leaving the European Union. I trust that they will want to operate in good faith in the votes that may be to come.

My advice to Ministers, as well as to the rest of the House, is that what we should now be doing is celebrating the opportunities and the advantages that we will gain after March, when we have left the European Union. We should be having debates about how we will spend all the extra money on improving our public services instead of giving it to the EU. We should be having a debate about all the tax cuts that we need to boost our economy, so that instead of growth slowing after we leave, we speed it up by deliberate acts of policy which we would be empowered in this place to take if only Members would lift their gloom and their obstinate denial of opportunity, and see that if we spent some more money and had some tax cuts, it would provide a very welcome boost to our economy in its current situation.

I want to see us publish a schedule of tariffs for trading with the whole world that are lower than the tariffs that the EU currently makes us impose on perfectly good exporters, particularly of food products, from elsewhere in the world. Why do we have to impose high tariffs on food that we cannot grow for ourselves? I want us to have a debate on urgently taking back control of our fishing industry so that we can land perhaps twice as many fish in the UK and not let them all be landed somewhere else, and build a much bigger fish processing industry on the back of domestic landings from our very rich fishing grounds.

I wish to see us get rid of VAT on, for instance, green products and domestic fuel, which we are not allowed to do because we are an impotent puppet Parliament that does not even control its own tax system for as long as we remain in the European Union. I wish to see us take back control of our borders, so that we can have a migration policy that is right for our economic needs and fair to people from wherever they may come all around the world, rather than having an inbuilt European Union preference. I wish us to be a global leader for world trade. Now that the United States of America has a President who says that he rather likes tariffs, there is a role for a leading great power and economic force in the world like the United Kingdom to provide global leadership for free trade.

We will do none of that if we sign this miserable agreement with which the Government have presented us, because we will be locked into their customs arrangements for many months or years. We will not be free to negotiate those free trade deals, let alone provide the international leadership which I yearn for us to provide. I want us to have our seat back at the high tables of the world in the big institutions like the World Trade Organisation, so that with vote and voice and purpose, we can offer something positive, and have a more liberal free-trading democratic world than the one that we currently have. That is something that we are not allowed to do for as long as we remain members of the European Union.

I say this to Members. Lift the gloom. Stop “Project Fear”. Stop selling the electors short. Stop treating the electors as if they were unable to make an adult decision. Understand that they made a great decision—a decision I am mightily proud of—to take back sovereign control to the people, to take back the delegated sovereign control to this Parliament. It is high time that this Parliament rose to the challenge, instead of falling at every opportunity, and high time we did something positive for our constituents, instead of moaning and grumbling and spending every day—groundhog day—complaining about the vote of the British people.