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Express: Let’s Leave… and do it now, says RICHARD TICE

Date: 22 01 2018

Let’s Leave… and do it now, says RICHARD TICE

New Year is always a great time to press the reset button and think positively at work or at home; the same should be true in politics.

By RICHARD TICE

I always believe that the glass is half full, never half empty. Aside from the sad, incompetent Carillion saga, the economic news is almost universally good.

Record levels of employment, historic low levels of unemployment, manufacturing order levels at 30-year highs, corporate cash levels strong, international technology firms investing heavily in the UK.

Recruitment firms show strong results and global investors pour money into UK commercial property. Many more new homes are being built, though not enough.

In my sector, commercial property, we see firms renting more space to meet growth and investing for the future. 

Great British brands such as Aston Martin and Jaguar Land Rover report excellent global sales. Inflation appears to have peaked and wages are picking up.

Even productivity may be turning a corner. On Brexit, each week another nail is hammered into the already nail-filled coffin of Project Fear.

Last week another bank, Germany’s Deutsche Bank, confirmed that contrary to earlier doom-filled warnings it was only going to move a few jobs from London.

At the personal level, there are some great new films including the wonderful Darkest Hour. This shows the inspirational Churchill, demonstrating real leadership at a time of national need; cinemas are ringing with applause at his uplifting speeches and qualities.

Things can always be improved and we must strive as a nation to be better and better but the UK is in good shape and I have never been prouder to be British.

Post-Brexit, we have the chance to regain our spot at the global stage’s top table. Yet I cannot think of a time in the past 30 years when so many in both Houses of Parliament, the civil service and the Westminster-obsessed media have been so out of touch. 

First with the mood of the country and second the positive state of the economy. People gave politicians a clear mandate: Leave.

Yet they are trying to drag it out, dilute and delay with indeterminate transition periods, special votes and talk of a second referendum.

We may have seen nothing yet, as the Lords get their hands on the EU Withdrawal Bill. If they make a meal of it, the clamour to abolish them will grow ever louder.

I set up Leave Means Leave soon after the referendum to lobby for a proper Brexit, as I could see a fightback against the vote. We have support from dozens of MPs, entrepreneurs, tens of thousands of members of the public and social media contacts of some two million per week.

The mood of the people is, “Let’s get on with it.” People don’t want a long transition. Then Parliament can focus on more important issues such as improving the NHS, enhancing our schools and fixing our woeful broadband connectivity. 

Many in Westminster want to con us by leaving in name only, handcuffing us to daft EU rules that would prevent our economy growing faster. We have a strong hand: the EU needs our help on security and they sell £100billion more goods and services to us every year than we sell to them.

They need our money to help them out of their financial black hole. Our negotiating team, mainly Remain civil servants and token Brexit ministers, have broken every rule in the handbook.

They have not prepared a Plan B if there is no agreement and the other side know this; if you are not prepared to walk away you end up with a bad deal.

They have not set a firm deadline to give us time to get organised under the perfectly fine alternative trading arrangement known as WTO rules.

They have allowed the EU to set the agenda from day one. Making concessions, seeking nothing in return. We are not even going to start free trade talks until March when they should finish by then. 

If we let them drag on we will end up with a hopeless deal that they will pretend is good. My co-chairman John Longworth last week met EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier who made it clear that he will not agree a sensible win-win deal.

He wants to punish the UK. The Government should change most of the negotiating team, using Brexiteer MPs, and insist on accelerating the timetable.

Or we go to a WTO-based deal and they get no money. And, by the way, the next meeting is in London.

Once again, the British people would applaud up and down the land. But don’t hold your breath…

January 21st, 2018: Express