I have received various correspondence from constituents wanting to know more about the Brexit process. With this in mind, I have decided to enclose the following links which I hope explains more about our negotiations to leave the European Union:

- How does the Article 50 process work?

- How will we develop a trade relationship with both EU and Non - EU Countries?

- What happens to UK tax levels following our exit?

- What happens to our pensions following Brexit?

More information can be found via the Department for Exiting the European Union website and the Exiting The European Union Committee website, of which I am a member.

The EU referendum was the biggest vote in the democratic history of our country and it delivered a clear result – a majority of over well a million in favour of Britain leaving the EU. Since taking office the Prime Minister, Theresa May, has been admirably clear, too, that Brexit has to mean Brexit. Almost everybody in the House of Commons accepts that the people’s decision is final. So what are we waiting for?

Triggering Article 50 within the next few weeks, not months, would mean we can take back control of borders, laws, and economy sooner rather than later Within the same time frame, Britain should start negotiations for access to the single market — and strike our own trade deals with countries outside the EU. It is already apparent that a lot of the dire consequences of a vote to leave that were put forward by the Remain campaign as part of Project Fear have proved unfounded.

Britain’s economic strength remains unaffected; consumer confidence is high and key indicators have not plunged in the way we were told would happen. Nevertheless, what does risk causing damage for as long as it continues is uncertainty?  The doom and destruction promised by Project Fear should a Leave vote prevail has already been proven unfounded – let’s not let it continue to influence, and instead leave now. Businesses facing decisions about expansion and growth and investors wanting to put money into this country need to have a better idea of what the arrangements are going to be with Europe and the rest of the world once Britain leaves the EU. It will take time to agree but the sooner we start, the sooner uncertainty will be removed.

Triggering Article 50 is the beginning of the process, not the end. It is the starting gun and firing it will signal that serious negotiations are under way. There is bound to be a lengthy period to carry out those negotiations but as long as we delay their start there will be some people who will suggest there can be a fudge, second thoughts or further obstacles placed in the way. As the Prime Minister has made clear that is not the case and that we are going to leave, the sooner we fire the gun the better.

The Prime Minister has been clear that Brexit means Brexit, and I don’t believe anyone has put forward a case for why it cannot happen now as our aims are clear and it’s worth beginning long negotiations as soon as possible. Nobody has given any good reason for delay. We want to maintain access to the single market and to trade freely with Europe just as they will still want to trade freely with us. However, this will be subject to negotiation and we must set three key conditions. First, we have got to regain control of our borders and our immigration policy. We can choose who should have the right to enter and to work here. But I would like to see any such policy applied equally to everybody and on the basis of who will make a contribution to our society — not according to whether or not they happen to be a national of a EU member state. And we must be able to set a control on overall numbers and deliver on our promise to reduce the net figure to tens of thousands. We must deliver on our promises to reduce migration and negotiate beneficial access to the single market as soon as possible – it’s what the public expect.

Second, as long as we delay we continue to give huge sums to the EU every month as our membership fee — money which could be better spent in this country. As soon as we can conclude these negotiations, we will have the dividend of that money to spend on our priorities. Third, we need to free companies that do not trade with the EU as quickly as possible from having to comply with European regulations.. It is a simple measure to amend our own law so that all existing EU regulations continue to apply. Once that is done, we can then go through them, department by department, to decide which are sensible and we want to keep, and which we want to get rid of — those that simply add cost without delivering any benefit, and there will be quite a lot of those. This does not require negotiation. Once we are no longer members of the EU, it will be a matter solely for the British Government to decide.

Our laws and government spending can now be in British hands where they belong and we will be able to create new legislation that works for us. Of course, Europe will still be a major trading partner. But the greatest opportunities lie in our relationships with the fastest growing economies outside of the EU. At the moment we are held back from developing trade and investment deals with those countries because, while we are in the EU, they have to be agreed across all 28 countries. That is why it has proved impossible so far for Europe to make deals with China, India or the USA.

The public will be invited to the Thiepval Memorial in France on 1 July 2016 to mark the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, the Culture Secretary John Whittingdale announced today.

The joint Anglo-French commemoration of the Battle of the Somme is expected to attract great public interest, so tickets will be made available for the event. The 8,000 tickets will be allocated in pairs, free of charge, through a public online ballot. The ballot will be open to residents of the UK, France and Ireland on 28 September 2015. More details can be found on the Somme 2016 Ballot website at www.Somme2016.org The Somme was one of the bloodiest battles of the First World War, resulting in over one million casualties. A commemorative event is held at the Thiepval Memorial every year, but the centenary event in 2016 will be on a larger scale, with some 10,000 people attending.

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John wrote an article for the Times setting out the reasons why he supported the Vote Leave Campaign.

The test of the article is as follows:

I have huge respect and admiration for the Prime Minister. Under his leadership, we have turned around an economy that, in 2010, was on its knees. I have no doubt that the great reforms that this government has introduced, from the introduction of universal credit to the expansion of academies, will be seen to have transformed the prospects of our country.

I was also immensely honoured to be asked by the Prime Minister to join his Cabinet after the election to do a job that I had always wanted to do. However, at the time that he did so, I also told him that I had already stated publicly that I could not support continued membership of the European Union under the existing terms of our membership and that I felt that there had to be a wholly new relationship.

As a schoolboy, I campaigned in the last referendum for Britain to stay in what was then called the Common Market. I did so because I have always believed in the benefits of free trade. However, I was also reassured by the clear promise that the sovereignty of our Parliament would be unaffected. The then Government’s leaflet delivered through every door stated clearly that “No important new policy can be decided in Brussels or anywhere else without the consent of a British Minister answerable to a British Government and British Parliament”.

Since that time, that key principle has been steadily eroded. The introduction of Qualified Majority voting allowing member states to be overruled has been extended into more and more areas under successive Treaty changes. Time and again, we are told that we must implement directives from Brussels that are against our national interest and that we opposed. At the same time, we are told that we cannot make changes to our own legislation because to do so will be in breach of European law. 

I hoped that it would be possible for us to negotiate a new relationship with the EU whereby we cooperate on those areas where we choose to do so but we can also choose not to do so. This has proved impossible. The outcome of the Prime Minsiter’s negotiations does represent an improvement on the existing position. However, it falls a long way short of the new arrangement that I would like to see. In particular, it still means that our courts and Parliament have to comply with decisions taken in Brussels and that we have no ability to control our own borders. It is therefore clear to me that the only way we can regain control over these areas is by negotiating new agreements with Europe from outside the EU.

In the coming weeks, there will be much debate about what life would be like outside the European Union. Already some are drawing comparisons with the arrangements for Norway, Canada or Switzerland. However, we are like none of those countries. We are the fifth biggest economy in the world, one of 5 permanent members of the UN Security Council, a leading member of NATO and one of the G7. Outside the EU, we will continue to exert influence around the world and will be free to negotiate trade deals not just with the EU but also with countries like the US, China and India. We currently have a trade deficit with the rest of the EU of about £60 billion and so it is very much in their interests that we quickly conclude a new free trade arrangement. However, we will no longer be required to impose regulations on business which add up to a cost of over £33 billion. Nor will we have to go on sending over £350 million to Brussels each week and can instead spend that money on our own priorities. 

 

For these reasons, I shall be supporting the Vote Leave campaign. However, I am pleased that thanks to this Conservative Government, it is the British people who will be able to decide.

 

As Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, John Whittingdale made a statement to the House of Commons on the future of the BBC under Charter Renewal:

The Government are today laying before Parliament and depositing in the Libraries of both Houses a White Paper on the BBC charter review. The royal charter is the constitutional basis for the BBC. It is the framework for how the BBC is governed and guarantees its independence. The current royal charter will expire at the end of 2016; today we lay out our plans for the next one.

The White Paper represents the culmination of 10 months’ work. I thank everyone who contributed to the Green Paper consultation process, not least 190,000 members of the public. I am also very grateful to Sir David Clementi and his team for their independent review of the governance and regulation of the BBC, to the Committees in both Houses that made recommendations and to all the stakeholders, BBC representatives and others who helped inform our deliberations.

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