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UK’s Withdrawal from the European Union

Part of Business of the House (Today) – in the House of Commons at 4:13 pm on 14th March 2019.

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Photo of Chris Green Chris Green Conservative, Bolton West 4:13 pm, 14th March 2019

It is astounding to me that we are in this position. The British people made their decision in June 2016, yet here we are in March 2019 debating by how long we should be extending article 50, or even whether we should have a second referendum. We need to get on with this. We need to leave decisively on 29 March. That is the democratic expectation across the country, because 29 March 2019 is a date in so many people’s heads across the country. Millions of people, whether they voted to leave or to remain, or indeed whether they abstained, are expecting us to leave on that date.

It is not just good for democracy to deliver our promises; it is also good for business. If there is a suspension, whether short or long, or a series of suspensions, that will be bad for business planning, whether in manufacturing, clinical trials, life sciences or in the universities sector.

Just look at the EU’s approach to science to see why it is not working now and will not work in future. The clinical trials directive was thought of in 2001 and introduced in 2004. The EU wanted to change it to the clinical trials regulation in 2016. Thus far, it has failed to make that change and we do not know when it will be delivered. The failure to change from the directive to the regulation is holding back trials. If trials do not go ahead, life-saving or life-enhancing treatments will not be invented and brought to market to serve people’s interests.

The EU is still going in the same direction. Against the advice of the advocate-general, the European Court of Justice decided to treat gene editing as the creation of genetically modified organisms, which means that that technology will be held back in the EU. Professor Nigel Halford said:

“If adopted by the Council and Parliament the decision could set back agbiotech in Europe by another 20 years. We are already a generation behind. Young scientists interested in agbiotech are likely to move to places where common sense and scientific evidence prevail”.

That is not the European Union. I believe the EU is 1950s politics applied to the 21st century. We need to leave on 29 March this year.