We can ill afford the hefty cost of an extended implementation period

We can ill afford the hefty cost of an extended implementation period

I won my seat in Mansfield at the last General Election by 1,057 votes. I am so grateful to local people for their support and I never take their votes for granted. I work hard to represent them, to promote our town and to improve the lives of all my constituents.

I’m confident that I understand the concerns and aspirations of people in what is a key marginal seat. They were heartened when the Prime Minister said at the Conservative Conference that their hard work was paying off and austerity was over. They are sick of feeling like they are worse off.

Speaking at the sidelines of the recent IMF summit, Philip Hammond then confirmed a £15 billion buffer to “plot the path out of austerity” that he would be able to release with the conclusion of a Brexit agreement. This, he said, “could be released to support the spending envelope or to deliver tax cuts or to pay down the debt more quickly”.

Now it looks like this – and more – could instead be handed over to the EU for an extra implementation period that nobody wants and our country does not need. The cost of extending the negotiating period is estimated to be as high as £15 billion. This extra cost comes on top of the £5 billion EU rebate that the UK would lose if it stays in the EU.

We know that the Chancellor says he cannot find extra funding for Universal Credit, so where are we now finding all the extra funding to send to the EU?

As Conservatives, we should exist to help people keep more of their hard-earned money – and siphoning off huge amounts to the EU risks diverting cash from people’s pockets and from public services.

If this plan goes through to divert funding away from domestic needs and instead subsidise the EU – in the vague hope of reaching a future agreement with them on our future relationship – then I and colleagues will need to seriously question why budgetary restrictions are being proposed on a domestic level in the forthcoming Budget.

We should not allow ourselves to be bullied by the EU and we should not treat Brexit as some sort of damage limitation exercise. People voted to Leave because they wanted a change, not because they wanted to replicate the status quo as closely as possible. This ought to be the time to stand up for the national interest, to believe in our country and plot a better course for people like my constituents.

Why on earth would we want to extend the transition phase when we don’t know where or what we are even transitioning to? If we know that deals will be done on the final day, at the eleventh hour, then we should be bringing that day forward rather than delaying it. We need certainty, not further confusion.

We know that this extension would cost billions, it won’t tackle any of the supposed issues around the Irish border, it would tie the UK to the Single Market and Customs Union and offer no leverage to secure a better deal with the EU.

We’ve got to work out whose side we are on. I’m on the side of the people of Mansfield, where 71% voted to Leave. It’s their lives and future I will take into account when voting on the Budget and future financial plans. Let’s back them and the British people who overwhelmingly voted to Leave the EU and take back control of money, borders, laws and trade.