Here’s how I’ll get us out of the EU by October 31st – no ifs, no buts, no excuses

Here’s how I’ll get us out of the EU by October 31st – no ifs, no buts, no excuses

As politicians we are elected to serve the public. And three years ago, we asked them for their verdict on decades of membership of the European Union. They told us to get Britain out. We promised to deliver.

Our failure to do that has overshadowed everything else we, as a Government, have tried to do in the last three years. We look incompetent as a result, and our poll ratings have plummeted. And we allowed the Brexit Party to hoover up votes that meant many hard-working councillors and MEPs, who had given literally thousands of man- and woman-hours to the party, lost seats they didn’t deserve to lose.

Now, I do not think we will deliver Brexit and immediately receive an electoral dividend. We have to give the electorate far more than that – a vision for the future that people can unite behind. One built on the core values of the Conservative Party for more than a century – giving people the opportunity to get on, and rewarding them for their ambition when they do. Making a multi-year, multi-billion commitment to our schools, investing in infrastructure across the country to rebalance the economy, and leaving more of what people earn in their pockets.

To do that, though, we must leave. No ifs, no buts, no excuses.

I spent a career in business doing cross-border deals and I know how to negotiate. I’ve used those same skills in Government to get things done at home and build bridges with other countries. The security relationships I’ve negotiated for our post-Brexit future are testament to that.

Now I’m ready to apply those skills to the greatest challenge we’ve faced for decades.

First, I will focus on delivering the only thing that’s got through Parliament – leaving Europe with alternative arrangements on the backstop. Ireland is the key to that, and I believe we can do a deal with them. So to unlock the impasse I will make a big, bold offer to fund all of the new technology required for a border without hard infrastructure, now and in the future.

Economically, it’s the right thing to do: I firmly believe getting a deal will unlock investment that will trigger a mini economic boom. But morally, too. We have chosen to go our own way, free to be a sovereign nation in the world once again, and it is we who have chosen to say no to the status quo. So it’s right that we work to restore the goodwill at the heart of a relationship founded on family bonds, geography and shared history. 

I’ve looked at this in the Home Office, tasking a team from Border Force to look at what we’d need in place. They were clear the technologies already exist to avoid a hard border, and important work in being undertaken by the Alternative Arrangement Commission on this front. What we need is the trust and will on both sides to make this work a reality – and it’s possible. 

Don’t listen to those who say that the EU is dug in, that it won’t shift its position. Listen to what the BBC’s Europe Correspondent Katya Adler said on Wednesday night:

“EU leaders want to avoid a no-deal Brexit, so there is a bit of wiggle room if they think a wiggle could do the trick. What do I mean by wiggle? They know that any new Prime Minister will ask for something on the backstop and actually, amongst EU leaders, there is more openness among some to an end date to the backstop if push came to shove… If Dublin is agreeable, and only if all EU leaders are 100% sure it would do the trick (with Parliament), that would pass [through Parliament].”

I believe we can deliver a deal. I believe Parliament will unite, for the second time, around an orderly exit. But if we can’t, and the choice is No Deal or no Brexit, let me be clear.

As Prime Minister I would have a clear position. We should leave on October 31st. And if we cannot get a deal we should, with great regret, leave without one, having done everything we can to minimise disruption.

Of course, the arithmetic of a minority government is inescapable. As the recent comments of the Speaker demonstrated, it’s simply not credible to promise you can deliver a No Deal if Parliament is set against it. And anyone who promised this would risk driving us to a pre-Brexit general election this year: a disaster first and foremost for our country and public trust in democracy; but also for our party. So no – I will not be proroguing Parliament. 

That’s why we need a leader who can unite the party, and country, behind a credible plan – and then go and actually deliver it.

I believe this is that plan. And I know I am that leader.