The Government is now closer than ever to achieving its number one objective of getting this country out of the European Union, writes Sir Edward Leigh MP.
Remarkably, the Prime Minister has managed to force Brussels to re-open the deal for negotiation, which many people said was impossible and hopelessly naïve.
He’s ensured that the UK will no longer be bound by EU laws and taxes as well as ending the supremacy of the European Court of Justice here in Britain.
The backstop, which the EU continually said was an absolute necessity, is now gone, resigned to the dust heap of history.
Instead, it will be the people of Northern Ireland who will be in control of the laws they live under – within the United Kingdom.
The Prime Minister has renegotiated and obtained a better deal than the one we had before that allows Britain to get out of the EU without disruption, and its even won the support of a majority in the House of Commons on second reading.
The new deal will give Britain the freedom to strike its own free trade deals to break down the protective barriers the European Union has erected should it decide to – or to keep sensible protections for British farmers, manufacturers, and producers if that is best.
On workers rights, once Britain leaves the EU, the Government will continue Britain’s strong legacy of providing better conditions than the EU’s minimum standards.
For example, the UK living wage will increase to £10.50 per hour by 2024, where the EU sets no requirement.
Sick pay will remain at 28 weeks – the EU sets no minimum standard.
The EU’s maternity leave of 14 weeks pales in comparison to the UK’s 52 weeks, while British workers get 28 days annual leave to the EU minimum of 20 days.
Frustratingly, the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party are refusing to back the very sensible plan which would have guaranteed that Brexit was done on October 31 and many are trying to force another referendum which would cause pointless delay and dithering.
I believe it is an insult to tell voters to think again when MPs haven’t yet managed to implement the results of the original referendum – which both Conservatives and Labour promised to do in the 2017 election manifestos.
Meanwhile, projections from the International Monetary Fund show that the UK economy – which has grown by 19 per cent since Conservatives re-entered government in 2010 – will grow at a faster rate than France, Germany, and Japan.
The unemployment rate is down to its lowest level since the 1970s and this Government has managed to cut taxes for 32 million working people.
Wages belong to workers, not the state, and hard-working people should be able to keep as much of what they earn as possible.
This is the overall context but Brexit is still the number one challenge and this Government’s first priority.
The Prime Minister and my fellow Conservative MPs are working hard to ensure it will be delivered as soon as possible.