No more fake Brexit deadlines: we must leave the EU on 31st October, come what may

No more fake Brexit deadlines: we must leave the EU on 31st October, come what may

It is three years since we voted to leave the EU. Since then we’ve dithered and delayed. Broken our promise once, then once again. The uncertainty is terrible for business. Big issues have been ducked. And constant attempts to overturn the result have destroyed what little faith there was in our politics.

Three years of hand-wringing, of a managerial outlook that saw Brexit as a problem to be mitigated rather than an opportunity, has left us humiliated. It’s created the Brexit Party and nourished the Lib Dems. Both have feasted on our vote, as over a thousand Conservative councillors will testify.

It’s almost a year to the day that I resigned from Cabinet, so I could argue my case for a proper Brexit that unites people around the exciting opportunities for our country. Not only were we the architects of our own incarceration – in the form of the Irish backstop – but we also laid down the one weapon that might have got us what we wanted. By never truly meaning the threat to walk away, our demands were never taken seriously.

This election comes at a critical moment because there is still time to change. The choice for members of our great party – legitimately wondering if this is its final chapter – is whether we change direction or settle for more of the same.

More of the same means more Brexit dithering and delay, more uncertainty for business and continuing division in our country. Kick the can and we kick the bucket. That means only one thing: the proto-Marxist, Chavez-worshipping, anti-Semitism-appeasing Jeremy Corbyn. That’s the consequence of more of the same.

We need a change of direction. That’s why we must treat 31st October as a real deadline for leaving the EU, come what may, not a fake one.

The hour is darkest before the dawn. Get this done and we can turn things around. What I’m offering is a more optimistic, dynamic approach to these negotiations. I want a deal. I believe our European friends want one and they will be in no doubt that we are serious because we will prepare all-out for No Deal.

In so far as our wishes have appeared unclear in the past, our friends will quickly see where things stand. The no-brainer of protecting citizens’ rights, putting the £39 billion into a state of creative ambiguity and moving discussions about the Irish border to their proper place: our future trading relationship.

If our friends feel they cannot agree, then we will be match fit for No Deal. We will have the fiscal firepower to support business and agriculture. We will be free to substantially diverge on tax and regulation. I don’t know about you, but I have had enough of being told that we cannot do it — that the sixth biggest economy in the world is not strong enough to run itself and go forward in the world.

Politics has changed and many of my colleagues understand this. MPs on all sides have got to understand it is their responsibility to deliver Brexit as democrats first and foremost. It was right to ask the people whether we should stay in the EU or leave, and it is right for Parliament to enact that decision. Dogs in the manger need to wake up – our democracy is too fragile to be played around with.

We voted to leave and leave we will.

Campaigning for leave up and down our great country, I got the same message. Town after town felt invisible and ignored. Our great economic success was for other people in other places. Not theirs. Yes, people wanted control over our borders and our money. But the clincher was opportunity, or the lack of it.

I will unite this country by doing for all the regions and nations what I did in London: building the infrastructure to unlock jobs and growth, closing the opportunity gap.

That’s why alongside delivering Brexit by 31st October I will deliver the funds to level up education funding for every child, deliver full fibre broadband for every home by 2025 and 20,000 more police officers on our streets. I want to be the Prime Minister who does with Northern Powerhouse Rail — the Crossrail of the North — what I did in London with Crossrail. I will protect our Union by becoming the Minister for the Union, with the clout in Whitehall to match.

I feel a deep sense of personal responsibility for Brexit and that’s why I am the one to see it through. This is it. No second chances. We can choose more of the same, or we can choose change: delivering Brexit on 31st October, uniting the country and beating Corbyn.