Last week marked a year since 17.4 million people voted to leave the European Union. In February, 494 MPs voted to leave by triggering Article 50. The Conservative Manifesto was perfectly clear; the people voted to ensure democratically elected politicians take back control of our laws, our borders and our money.
I spoke in the House of Commons on Thursday in the debate on the Queen’s Speech. I said that I was delighted that 85% of the electorate voted in the General Election for parties that said they will honour the Brexit vote. Parties that want to reverse Brexit lost electoral support. We have a very clear mandate in this Parliament to deliver Brexit. That was then again made clear in the Queen’s Speech.
We will leave the European Union, we will leave the Single Market and we will leave the Customs Union. The EU cannot grant us continued membership of the Single Market after we have taken back control of our borders as that would breach one of their four freedoms. As was made clear by both sides during the referendum campaign, remaining in the Customs Union would be the worst of all worlds; although we would leave the EU, we would still be subject to its external tariffs, without any real chance of influencing them. Instead, we seek a deep and special partnership that includes a comprehensive free trade deal and customs agreement.
EU citizens make an invaluable contribution to our United Kingdom: to our economy, our public services and our everyday lives. At the European Council, the Prime Minister made a commitment to guarantee the right of abode to the 3.2 million EU nationals here in the UK. We ask the EU to reciprocate for the 1.2 million UK nationals in the EU.
The Department for International Trade (DIT) has hired over 3,000 people and engaged the top flight trade negotiator, Crawford Falconer. He brings over 25 years of public service in trade and foreign affairs.
In 1999, 61 per cent of UK trade was with the EU, now it is 43 per cent. By 2025, it has been projected that our exports to the EU will account for under 35 per cent.
Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for the Department for International Trade, was in America last week to discuss our future trade and investment relationship. UK/US trade is worth over £150 billion a year and the US is our single biggest source of inward investment.
Brexit will allow us to be a confident, outward-looking and self-governing nation, ready to negotiate trade deals with the Rest of the World, where our exciting future lies.