The Government is getting on with delivering Brexit

The Government is getting on with delivering Brexit

This week’s vote on the Second Reading of the Repeal Bill was an important step forward in delivering the outcome of the referendum we all campaigned so hard to win.

Its work, wording and process, like so much of the Government’s activity to deliver Brexit, will seem technical – but it’s an important reminder that beneath the bonnet, the Government is getting on with the job of getting Britain ready for Brexit. And in the last year we’ve made huge progress.

One year ago BrexitCentral launched as a new media outlet whose aim was to capture “every twist and turn of our departure from the EU” – and there have certainly been a few.

The Department for Exiting the EU was still in its infancy when BrexitCentral launched. A tiny team of people from across Whitehall were coming together to deliver on the outcome of the 2016 referendum.

In her Lancaster House speech, the Prime Minister addressed a room of diplomats and business leaders to set out her vision for Brexit. It is an agenda for a deep and special partnership with the EU, with Britain taking back control of our laws and our borders, that is being delivered today.

Shortly after, the Article 50 Bill – a sensible, straightforward piece of legislation with the overwhelming approval of Parliament – gave the Prime Minister the power to trigger Article 50.

It was on 29th March that we notified the EU of our intention to exit: with a letter delivered personally to Donald Tusk by our Ambassador to the EU, Sir Tim Barrow. On that day I sat in a packed chamber in Parliament and listened to the Prime Minister deliver her statement – a speech that will mark a moment in history.

It signalled the end of an era and the start of a momentous amount of work to untie us from the EU institutions we had been a part of for more than 40 years.

After a year of extensive preparations, the negotiations got underway in June. With so much work having taken place across Whitehall to form the UK Government’s position, it was a momentous occasion as David Davis and Michel Barnier gripped hands in Brussels and officially kicked off the talks.

Since then, we’ve had two more rounds of talks and more work has been undertaken to prepare a raft of papers on separation issues and proposals for our future partnership. These papers clearly set out the detailed thinking that we’ve done on the negotiations and on our future relationship – something we want to start talking about right away.

But what has become clear is that while the EU is focusing on process, the UK is very clearly focused on people – delivering certainty to citizens and businesses across the UK and the EU as soon as we can.

But this process isn’t just about the front line of talks in Brussels. We also need to get our house in order at home.

And that’s why the developments in Parliament this week were so important.

As we move on to committee stage, it’s important to remember that the Withdrawal Bill does vitally important things: it ends the supremacy of EU law over UK law by repealing the 1972 Act; it converts EU law into UK law, which guarantees legal continuity, and so British courts and our Parliament can have control over how it changes in the future; and it allows the Government, through Parliament, to make the tweaks necessary to fix laws that will no longer make sense after our exit.

On Monday, Members of Parliament used their votes to express support for an orderly exit that provides certainty to businesses, organisations and individuals up and down the country. Their contribution is invaluable and we will listen carefully as the Bill progresses – while remembering that we will allow no amendment which seeks to undermine the simple purpose of the Bill: securing an orderly exit and taking back control of our laws.

Because Brexit is happening and this Government is getting on with the job of delivering it. Both as a backbench MP and as a Government Minister, I have felt hugely proud of the progress that we have made. The opportunities that stand before us are many and we must be in a position to seize each and every one of them.