Walsall Advertiser column: 4th October 2017

Theresa May’s recent Florence speech made clear that Britain is leaving the European Union (EU). Brexit will happen, delivering the overwhelming wish of the people of Bloxwich, Willenhall and north Walsall. The Prime Minister deserves our support in delivering the biggest package of policy changes since the Second World War. It cannot just happen overnight. The country needs to unite to make this a success for every one of us.

The Prime Minister confirmed that we will leave the customs union and single market. She has offered free trade for the EU to the UK market, on same terms as now, if the EU reciprocates. She also set out a comprehensive and generous offer to our friends in the European Union around financial commitments, defence and security. It’s time for the EU to work with the UK constructively on shaping our future partnership together.

Brexit is very much a process as opposed to a single event. Whilst it makes sense to have some sort of transition period from one relationship to another, people in Walsall voted for change and tell me they are impatient for change. So, I will continue to press the Government on several issues.

Firstly, the transition stage should take no longer than two years. This stage shouldn’t be about kicking the can down the road, but about moving from one arrangement to another as smoothly as possible.

Secondly, people in Walsall want to see concrete action on controlling immigration and free movement of people.

Thirdly, during the transition period, we must be free to negotiate trade deals with other countries, alongside our negotiations with the EU. We need to become a global free trading nation to maximise the benefit of Brexit, with deals ready to go as soon as possible.

In addition, we must retain the position that no deal is better than a bad deal. We must not do a deal at any price and we must demonstrate to our friends that we are serious and ready to walk away if they will not work with us. Practical issues such as new buildings and infrastructure need to be built. This needs to happen quickly in time for March 2019, in case we don’t secure a deal.

Under the Conservatives, Brexit is happening. Change is coming. And I will continue to press for this change on behalf of the people of Bloxwich, Willenhall and north Walsall.