Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK to become the global leader in tech innovation

Brexit provides an opportunity for the UK to become the global leader in tech innovation

As my party has been meeting in Manchester these last few days , we have been surrounded by reminders of what this country is capable of achieving on the global stage.

It’s where Mr Rolls met Mr Royce and a home of the industrial revolution. As Benjamin Disraeli said: “What Manchester does today, the rest of the world does tomorrow.”

Like so much of our great nation, Manchester reminds us that we are a nation built on global aspirations and a thirst for adventure. We punch above our weight, the Anthony Joshua rather than the John Prescott on the international stage.

We achieve our greatest feats when we defy the odds. We know the value of attracting and welcoming the best talent from across the globe, not just from Europe.

Leaving the EU was never about shrinking away from the rest of the world, but about embracing the opportunities beyond just one small corner of it. When we leave the EU, we will not be leaving behind our European friends.

As one of my Flemish MEP colleagues reminds everyone, Britain is an island, not a boat. We will not simply sail away. And as the Prime Minister said in Florence, we want to work hand in hand with the European Union, rather than as part of the European Union.

As Conservatives, we will continue to work with like-minded parties. In the European Parliament, I am proud to lead the European Conservatives and Reformists political group with MEPs from 18 countries from across the EU. They wish to maintain a deep and prosperous relationship with the UK after we leave.

They know that the history and future we share is not conditional on being a member of one particular club. They share our belief in open trade, fair immigration, jobs and growth, governed by proportionate laws to allow innovation and ambition, rather than over-regulation and costly bureaucracy.

As a libertarian-minded Conservative and a free-trader, I see Brexit as the moment to seize. It is the moment which will define us. Not only for the UK to step out on the global stage, but for the UK to act as a global leader: a hub for tech innovation, a beacon for global trade, a magnet for inward investment. We have the products, the people and the passion to do it.

As my parents used to tell me, there is no limit to what we can achieve as long as we believe in ourselves and work hard. Now is the time for Britain to roll up its sleeves, dig deep, and build the foundations for a better future.

As the writer Nassim Nicholas Taleb said: “When there is disruption, you face three choices – you can be fragile – take a dive, you can be robust and survive, or you can take full advantage of the opportunities by being anti-fragile and thrive”.

Brexit is an opportunity for our world-leading tech companies to develop new smart, online immigration and customs systems and transform the way we work in government, public services and the private sector.

We can turn our backs on the form-filling and bureaucracy, more suited to the 1970s than to a global 21st century nation. And by attracting the best global talent, we can make the UK the Silicon islands of this side of the Atlantic.

Our exit from the EU is ultimately about people’s lives and livelihoods.The important thing is to make sure we come away with a deal that benefits all the British people; not just the big finance houses and the multinationals that scream the loudest, but a deal which restores control of our own laws, our own trade destiny and our own fair and balanced immigration policy.

I believe that our Government is the right one to deliver this vision and I am confident about the future, because I know what kind of country this is.

It is tolerant, open, and determined country that opened its arms to welcome my father in the 1950s to work here firstly on the railways then as a bus driver. And in one generation, offered his son the opportunity to lead one of the largest political groups in the European Parliament.

We must cherish that ambition, reach out to the future and embrace the new opportunities of a truly global Britain.