As we have been reflecting over the last few days on the success of the US mission 50 years ago to put man on the moon, it is worth reflecting on John F Kennedy’s role in that, and the role of leadership in bringing change. JFK was far from a saint, but his ambition and inspiration set the scene for great task-focused independent decision-making and investment and innovation that made the moon landings possible and led to many consumer spin-offs that have underwritten the US economy for the last 40 years. Without his incantation “We choose to go to the moon, not because it is easy but because it is hard”, and commitment of government effort, Silicon Valley may well not have had the impetus and imprimatur for the ecosystem that encouraged so many different personalities and sources of capital and ideas to pull together to achieve the goal. Although the world of trade, customs and regulation sounds more prosaic, the effect on UK prospects of doing these things well after we leave the EU, with authority and holistic purpose, could be equally dramatic. To paraphrase JFK, we choose to leave the EU, not because it is easy, or hard, but because our choosing matters. Boris Johnson’s ability to reach millions of people makes him the man for our moment. Like JFK, he asks us to take responsibility for what happens, and deliver on the nation’s choice. Give each citizen agency, however big or small, inspire greatness in each individual, and the public good will be elevated. Boris can unite the country with his optimism, can level with people and inspire them. He can reassure with action but also with words. PM Boris and his Cabinet communicating a positive vision that people respond to would be more than a breath of fresh air. They are the wind needed for our sails. We need relentless optimism in our presentation of the benefits of a positive working relationship to the EU. Yes we would like to agree various things to make interaction work well when we leave, and we stand ready for such mutually beneficial agreements. The draft Withdrawal Agreement won’t pass though, as it rides roughshod over the independence our people directed, so we may need to come formally to those agreements after we leave. We want the EU’s wonderful produce. We want to drive their cars. We want to contribute our creativity and commitment to Europe’s defence and its culture. We’d like our people to feel they want these things more, not less. They should however complement, not constrain, our global and domestic focus that was the cri de coeur of the referendum. If the EU’s wish is to obstruct those things, then we will have to make other arrangements. It does take two to tango, and the EU and UK need to trust each other. Clarity on what we want and what we will do are the first steps. After all, it is we who have made the move. So we should accept the offer Donald Tusk made of free trade. We should agree to facilitate trade and cooperation on the island of Ireland without a hard border through the “alternative arrangements” we are working up that look to involve the Good Friday Agreement institutions. We should guarantee citizens’ rights, and talk about an appropriate financial settlement. If we keep EU-level agreements autonomous and away from Investor State dispute mechanisms and investment provisions, they can be concluded rapidly without need for ratification by each EU Member State. In any event, we should reciprocate the EU’s unilateral “no deal” contingency measures, which are actually types of deal that already cover for example air services, haulage permits and product acceptances to keep things moving in any scenario. In the mean time, we should plan trade policy to move rapidly to improve trade conditions with the rest of the world after October 31st. We should prioritise benchmark comprehensive free trade agreements with Australia and Japan, and continued work towards free trade agreements with the US and key states that cover services, procurement and intellectual property intensive industries. Trade partners can make mostly low-tariff access to the UK, offered temporarily to all after October 31st, permanent and better by signing UK free trade agreements. If Boris is chosen to lead, his Government must move at pace and in scale though, to change the game with respect to things in its power. It must get behind our farmers with marketing support and tax breaks for local production and environmental stewardship, especially where EU market access or other pressures may be difficult. It must get the Treasury to review and make forecasts using actual cost figures not unrealistic negative assumptions, and actively mitigate, defray cost of, and communicate business needs for new processes. It must help EU traders navigate the need for new regulatory declarations and registrations and any related checks, and support business organisations in their efforts to do so. It must support logistics providers, not just customs brokers and big companies, to facilitate trade by consolidating shipments, driving out costs and taking advantage of simplified procedures. Arrangements for pre-clearance and Transit in premises and logistics hubs and stops must be made, and communicated on the ground with traders and shippers so they will use them ahead of arrival at the Channel ports, to have smooth passage through them and beyond. It must rapidly invest in people and systems for Border Force and HMRC, in their interfaces with counterpart agencies in the EU and elsewhere, and their resource needs. It must make sure procedural simplifications and mitigations work in the real world of logistics. Ease of use of new processes to manage the differences between jurisdictions should be the primary goal. It should reduce VAT and excise rates to lowest neighbouring levels to reduce incentives for non-compliance. The new Government should shock and awe with improvements to business conditions in the UK more generally. It should introduce lower, flatter, simpler taxes, and proper incentives for hard work. It should raise NIC thresholds that discourage people from earning more. The safety net should be provided not just through general taxation and national insurance, which has become just another tax spent in-year, but also through progressive actual insurance of pooled risk, for example to fund social care. It should incentivise saving and investment in UK operations that generate local jobs, skills and technologies – incentives similarly applied whether people are employed, self-employed or in corporate or partnership structures. It should make the UK the place of choice for people to keep and invest their capital, by transforming and broadening the capital and investment allowances system and treatment of onshore funds and their owners. It should stand by sectors and communities which are in transition to different processes and opportunities, and back them with local infrastructure, skills development and incentives. A relentless “can do” attitude and focus on the goal of making a success of independence, is how we will do this and deliver on people’s ambition. Our country can do much to make this work – it must – and Boris is the one to lead it. In return we should ask, as JFK did, what each of us can do for our country, to make it happen.