The Speaker would stop No Deal, so here’s my plan to ensure we’re out of the EU by October 31st

The Speaker would stop No Deal, so here’s my plan to ensure we’re out of the EU by October 31st

I believe we can make a great success of Brexit. If we take full advantage of our new-found freedoms we can be the best place in the world to start a new business, trial a new product or develop emerging tech like AI.

But first we’ve got to actually leave. Our failure to deliver Brexit on March 29th was a democratic disaster. Now we need a credible plan to leave on October 31st. I have that plan.

To deliver on that commitment I’ve set out my detailed Brexit Delivery Plan.

It’s a plan that deals with the world as it is, starting with a realistic assessment of the facts.

The first thing is that, like it or not, this House of Commons has blocked a no-deal Brexit and threatens to do so again. Whether by changing procedural rules with the blessing of the Speaker, or by forcing a confidence vote and an early general election, MPs would either seize control of the parliamentary timetable as they did in March, or bring down the Government.

The oft-cited Institute for Government report which argues that No Deal is the ‘legal default’ comes with a huge caveat: it says right at the top that’s all true unless the Speaker of the House of Commons devises any constitutional innovations aimed at frustrating No Deal. That assumes away Speaker Bercow. But Speaker Bercow is a fact.

The honest truth is that No Deal is not a policy option available to the next Prime Minister. The only way to escape the bind is to get a new Parliament. But that would mean an election, which would risk Corbyn by Christmas, a second referendum and no Brexit at all.

It’s also clear that renegotiating the Political Declaration on the future is much easier than renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement.

Changes to the Withdrawal Agreement must now be unanimously agreed by all 27 member states, not just Brussels. Any such agreement is highly unlikely to be forthcoming. And if it were, it would only be offered with unacceptable strings attached, like conditions on issues like Gibraltar and fisheries. A Brexit plan based on changes to the Political Declaration is more credible than a plan that rests on reopening the Withdrawal Agreement.

Given all this, my Brexit Delivery Plan will get us out by October 31st, without gambling Brexit on an early election.

I want to see a much more ambitious Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, one that will need changes to the current Political Declaration. That way we restore our sovereignty, protect the economy and safeguard our Union.

The first part of my Plan is to seek a democratic mandate from the Conservative Party by setting out my plan in advance. I hope other candidates will do the same.

Second, I will unilaterally enshrine the rights of EU citizens in UK law. This is the right thing to do, and will create much-needed goodwill for the negotiations ahead.

Third, I will propose a Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement as the basis for our future relationship with the EU. That means leaving the Single Market and the Customs Union.

This free trade deal with the EU will include a major security co-operation element. It will also ensure UK regulatory autonomy on emerging technologies, helping us create the high-pay jobs of the future.

The fourth part of my Plan provides a long-term solution to the most vexed issue of the whole Brexit process: avoiding a hard border on the island of Ireland.

I will set up an Irish Border Council with a remit to agree, as soon as possible, a political, administrative and technological solution that avoids a hard border and allows for an independent UK trade policy.

This will be modelled on the George Mitchell talks which drove the Northern Irish peace process and will include cross-party representation from across Northern Irish society, as well as a role for the EU and the Irish government. Its aim will be to secure the consent of communities on both sides of the border.

To support the Council’s work, we will make it a national UK mission to develop an effective border system. And we will invite the world’s leading logistics and technology experts to come and help us solve this problem.

But this problem cannot be solved with technology alone. It will need political buy-in and the consent of those on both sides of the border. So we will invest an initial £1 billion in communities on both sides of the border, including a new PEACE programme and a new fund to support North-South trade.

The fifth and final part of my Brexit Delivery Plan is to include a time limit on the backstop.

This will focus minds and, crucially, will put an endpoint to the Irish border process. It will be delivered through an addendum to the Withdrawal Agreement. Conversations I have had with EU contacts give me cautious grounds for optimism about the prospects for this.

That’s my Brexit Delivery Plan: a Comprehensive Free Trade and Security Agreement that respects our sovereignty; an Irish Border Council to find a solution that all sides can live with; and a time limit to the backstop.

Once we’ve left the EU by October 31st, I am determined to make such a success of Brexit that we vindicate the choice of those who voted to Leave and we surprise those who voted to Remain.

We can start to reunite our country with an open and optimistic, patriotic unionism. We can focus on the properly-funded, world-class high-tech public services that people want to see. And we can make the new dividing line in British politics higher pay with the Tories or higher taxes with Corbyn’s Labour.

So let’s get Brexit done, let’s make it a success and let’s move our country forward.