From Leigh to You: Setting the date to free ourselves from the EU

Sir Edward Leigh
Sir Edward Leigh

The Prime Minister has announced that in March the Government will invoke Article 50 exercising the country’s decision to leave the European Union.

This is now the clearly settled will of the British people as expressed in a free and fair referendum the result of which gained a majority of more than one million votes.

Many of us have been arguing for this for years, disappointed as we were that our vision of European co-operation and unity simply didn’t match the visions expressed by our neighbours on the continent.

Still, while our overall visions may not match, there is plenty of room for continued practical cooperation in matters of mutual interest.

As in any time of great change, many are concerned about the future and what is to come and how it will affect us on an everyday basis, which is completely reasonable.

Many constituents have been in touch with me with a wide variety of concerns ranging from the way we fund scientific research to how our agricultural subsidies will work.

It is reassuring that the European Space Agency (ESA), for example, is not actually an EU body and we will continue our co-operation with other countries in the important work the ESA and other bodies do.

In agriculture we don’t yet know the specific shape a British subsidies regime will take.

Currently the United Kingdom is a net contributor to the Common Agricultural Policy of the EU, which means we put more money into it than we get out of it every year.

That means that, as we leave the European Union, if we keep our agricultural spending at the same level as it has been it will mean we can invest more in British farmers and producers with the money that we had previously sent to subsidise farmers on the continent.

The Government has made clear that for the immediate future it will be business as usual.

The Great Repeal Bill which has been announced will put on a domestic basis all the European legislation to which we have already assented and which already shapes our lives.

The point of this is to provide a stable and known context for businesses and others to operate during the transition period.

Most importantly, however, it means that in the long term we will be able to tweak these laws or even fundamentally reform them to better suit the British people.

Some things will change very little, for example, workers rights and consumer standards here are arguably the highest and best in the world and there is neither advantage nor demand to relax them.

But other petty and stifling aspects of the EU’s regulatory regime will have to go.

What’s wrong with small businesses here in Lincolnshire advertising and selling in pounds and ounces?

Great Britain is taking a big step into the world and I believe the future for Lincolnshire and for the country is looking better than ever.