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Global Britain

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:16 pm on 30th January 2020.

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Photo of Steve Double Steve Double Conservative, St Austell and Newquay 3:16 pm, 30th January 2020

I welcome my hon. Friend’s comments and agree with him, but only up to a point, because I would be failing my constituents if I did not say that there is still a proud independent streak in Cornwall. The partnership with Devon and the other counties in the south-west goes only so far, particularly when it comes to the order in which we put cream and jam on a scone.

The recent identification of large deposits of lithium in Cornwall presents a great opportunity not only for Cornwall but for the whole UK, which could have its own secure domestic supply of what will be one of the most in-demand and crucial elements of our future. The more we need batteries for electric vehicles and other forms of energy storage, the greater the demand for lithium and other elements will be. In today’s ever-changing global climate, we cannot overstate the importance of having our own domestic supply of significant amounts of lithium, not only to supply the car industry and other industries in this country, but to export an element that will be in huge demand in the years ahead. I do not think that can be ignored. Cornwall is ready once again to contribute significantly to global Britain through the extraction of precious metals.

Another way in which Cornwall’s history links to our future is in telecommunications, which in recent days has been mentioned a lot in the news, and indeed in this House. Many Members might not realise that Cornwall was once the most well connected place on the planet, for in June 1870 the final section of the submarine cable between Great Britain and India came ashore at Porthcurno, a small cove in the far south-west of the county. Just a few days later the first ever telegraph message from Bombay was sent to Britain via that cable. That station went on to become the world’s largest submarine telegraph station, and it remained a training centre right up until the late 1990s. Even back in the 19th century Cornwall was right at the heart of connecting the UK to the rest of the world. Cornwall is once again ready to play that part.

Hon. Members will not be surprised to hear me mention Spaceport Cornwall, which we are ready to roll with. We are still hopeful that, as planned, we will be launching satellites from Cornwall’s spaceport next year, once again playing a key part in helping the UK stay connected to the rest of the world and fulfil the vision of global Britain.

In summary, I believe that great opportunities lie ahead as we leave the EU tomorrow night. I believe that it is incumbent on us to take a positive stance, to have a positive vision of the part that the UK can play globally outside the EU as an independent, free-trading nation once again, and to ensure that we provide the positive lead that I believe our country needs us to play.