Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay addresses Tory Party conference: end delay to unlock Brexit opportunities

Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay addresses Tory Party conference: end delay to unlock Brexit opportunities

Delaying Brexit has come at a cost.

It has cost us trust in our democracy.

For those who voted in good faith at the last General Election; who believed the promises of MPs who said they would honour our vote to leave the EU.

And it has a massive financial cost – in extra payments to the EU.

It costs an extra £1 billion in payments to Brussels every month we delay.

And how much has this delay cost us in lost opportunities?

The very opportunities which we voted for – to lower living costs by forging new trade deals around the world.

With so much delay, is it any wonder my friend Jacob has taken to lying down on the government front bench.

But there has been one, immediate cost from delaying Brexit… 

The prolonged uncertainty has caused worry and concern to over 3 million EU Citizens living in the UK.

For those EU citizens living here, I have a direct message today. 

You are not a part of the negotiation. Your life and livelihood in the UK is not in doubt.

The Prime Minister set out in his first hour in office, on the steps of Downing Street, that we want you to stay.

To bring up your families in our communities…

To work in our public services and for our businesses…

In our NHS – where there are now 700 more EU doctors than at the time of the referendum. 

We value the contribution you make to our country and are pleased that you have chosen to make your home here.

We have guaranteed your rights to live, work and stay in the UK with full citizens rights for as long as you choose.

Now it is time for the EU to match that guarantee.

We are all too familiar with the refrain ‘despite Brexit’.

Yet, despite Brexit, we have record low unemployment… and the highest inward investment of any country in the EU.

Despite Brexit, just last week, London overtook New York to become THE world’s number one city for investments in fintech firms…

And despite Brexit, Jaguar Land Rover have opened the UK’s biggest state-of-the-art car design centre in Warwickshire, delivering a £500m vote of confidence in Britain.

It’s time to stop apologising for Brexit, and to unleash the opportunities it offers.

We can source products that we do not produce at a better price.

Too often the EU restricts access to markets that want to trade with us…

Like the foods that we do not grow, or the goods that we do not specialise in producing,

With new trade deals with other countries we can help the developing world through trade, rather than handing out aid.

To empower countries through free trade is the essence of being Conservative, and an important reason why I am a Brexiteer.

To use Brexit as a catalyst for change across all parts of our United Kingdom, including areas like my own in the Fens…

Who see Brexit as an opportunity – not a problem to be solved.

Jeremy Corbyn parades his credentials as an animal welfare campaigner.

But his delay prevents any sovereign choice on the continued live exports of animals. 

He claims to care about the planet, yet his delay to Brexit means we can’t choose to remove VAT on environmental products like solar panels.

His delay prevents us from implementing a new Agriculture Bill designed for our British farmers rather than the French.

Delay also means less time to focus on our people’s priorities.

It’s the Conservatives who want to get Brexit done so that we can focus on what the people want to see.

The biggest increase in spending on the NHS…

Tackling crime through the extra 20,000 police officers…

Levelling up opportunity, including on school funding…

And delay puts our United Kingdom at risk..

Encouraging the Scottish Nationalists that if one referendum can be ignored, then so too can the 2014 referendum on the integrity of the UK itself.

We will defend the Union – because we are the Conservative and Unionist Party.

And what do Labour want to have more delay on Brexit for? 

They cannot even count the vote at their conference on what they want to do… and it wasn’t even Diane Abbott doing the counting.


Sit on the fence?

Keep it a secret until after the election?

Labour don’t trust the people and that is why the people cannot trust them.

Labour ignore the votes of the many, because they prefer to listen to the opinions of the North London few.

Their position is to negotiate Brexit and then to scrap it.

That would demolish the UK’s negotiating position.

And what would they do once they had negotiated this fantasy ‘better’ deal?

As the Shadow Foreign Secretary herself has made clear, they would bring it back and have an unwanted and divisive second referendum, where they would campaign for Remain against their own deal.

Labour’s Brexit policy can be summed up in three words: dither and delay.

And look at the so-called Liberal ‘Democrats’.

They want to revoke Article 50 without even letting you have a say.

The Lib Dem position is now so extreme that it has even been rejected by the Green Party.

The Irish Deputy Prime Minister said on Wednesday that “there are solutions to this but it is a matter of political will”. 

I agree.

The Commission has said that it is open to “creative and flexible solutions on the border in Northern Ireland”. 

I am too.

President Juncker said “he is not wedded to the backstop”. 

Nor are we. So let’s abolish it.

The Prime Minister and I are focused on negotiating a deal.

But if we can’t get a deal, we’ll leave on 31 October anyway.

Michel Barnier once said that “the clock is ticking”. 

For Jeremy Corbyn – the election clock is now ticking very loudly. 

Our communities should not have to pay millions for each further hour of his delay.

We, as Conservatives, know it’s your money that he would waste.

We need to get Brexit done.  And with this Prime Minister, we will.