The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, but Britain stands ready for Brexit

The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, but Britain stands ready for Brexit

Theresa May never believed that the United Kingdom could flourish outside the EU. In fact, the entire political establishment has spent almost all of its energy over the last three years demeaning the views of the millions of people who voted to Leave in the EU referendum, and attempting to panic voters into changing their minds. And they’re still at it.

The Ghost of Project Fear is back again, this time in the form of Philip Rycroft, the former Permanent Secretary at the Department for Exiting the European Union. He’s the latest merchant of doom who wants to tell us all how distasteful he finds the views of ordinary voters to be.

17.4 million people voted to leave in 2016 – including two thirds of my constituents in Dover and Deal. Leaving the EU was an option on the ballot paper that attracted more votes than any politician or other referendum option in our history.

The British people voted in unprecedented numbers because they believed in better: a Britain where we can build a land of opportunity and a nation with the freedoms and independence that the vast majority of countries around the world enjoy. Outside the EU we will be able to control our borders, our laws and money and set our own trade policy.

Voters knew leaving the EU would not be easy and that there would be bumps in the roads. Some of those bumps might even be pretty jarring. But “fraught” with risk is over the top. Voters have heard the Project Fear fiddle played before – and they didn’t like the tune.

Day-by-day the Project Fear warnings have become ever more alarmist. We were told there would be border chaos, food and medicine shortages, price hikes, states of emergency, catastrophe, planes falling out of the sky, civil unrest – even an end to peace in Northern Ireland.

We’ve been warned of gridlock on the roads to the Channel Ports, that our pets will die in quarantine, that the Calais Jungle would be moved to Dover and that our water will become poisonous. We were even warned of an economic calamity in which millions would lose their jobs and house prices would collapse. Despite all of this, the people voted to Leave and it turns out they were absolutely right to do so.

People’s salaries have been increasing at the fastest rate in almost a decade, employment is at record levels and we’re still growing steadily as an economy. President Trump has promised us a “very powerful” trade deal and Obama’s “back of the queue” rhetoric has turned out to be the shallow nonsense voters predicted. Never has our future looked so bright.

Of course we have all long known that Brexit would present a challenge at the Dover frontline. There are around 60 sailings to the port of Dover from Dunkirk and Calais every day. But the cross-Channel trading route is a huge success story: more than £120 billion of trade moves through Dover’s docks every year and when you add Eurotunnel into the mix, the Channel Ports account for about a third of the UK’s trade in goods. Eurostar has, of course, pledged to maintain its service, saying that, “we plan and expect to maintain services on the existing basis and timetable following Brexit.”

Contrary to the increasingly desperate warnings, it is in everyone’s interests – that of the French as well as ours – that traffic continues to flow, particularly as they sell us £95 billion more goods than we sell to them. Small wonder that Xavier Bertrand, the boss of the Calais region, says they have no intention of holding things up at Calais. And what are the chances President Macron will play politics with jobs and livelihoods on both sides of the English Channel? Especially after he has done that in France and emerged with riots and a political bloody nose. He is now more likely now to focus on French jobs than Brussels clap lines.

If people like Philip Rycroft put as much effort into being ready as they put into trying to frighten us, we would be in an even better position. That’s why they should change tack now. They should spend all remaining time between now and 31st October making sure we are fully ready for any challenge that may be thrown at us.

At the Dover front line we have been working on preparations for disruption. A plan has been put to the Department for Transport to ensure the town of Dover is free of gridlock and that both of Kent’s motorways can be kept open and free-flowing. It is that kind of forward thinking that is needed from across Government. They must focus on being ready for business on 1st November.

Hope – not fear – fuelled that magnificent result in 2016 and we need an optimistic visionary in No. 10 who understands that and who will ensure that Project Fear and all its messengers are dealt with properly.

Right now, our country has an unprecedented opportunity to grasp the huge opportunities Brexit presents as well as to put the damaging paralysis behind us.

The British people stood ready in 2016 to make the call for our nation’s independent future. Let’s make sure that Parliament is able to match the political courage of the people. We must use all our energies to deliver for the people and match their unparallelled ambitions for this great nation of ours.

Britain stands ready for Brexit and we need a visionary leader to take us over the line. We really can triumph outside the EU, we can unite after we’re out and then bring the country and the Conservative Party together to take the fight to Jeremy Corbyn.