The last week has seen upheaval in the future of Britain. The nation has voted to leave the European Union. The Prime Minister has resigned and the Conservative Party has started choosing a new leader. The Labour Party has entered into a leadership crisis so severe that it could split.
So these are interesting times. We need to make the most of the opportunities of leaving the European Union. This means we need to look at the European Laws that we want to throw overboard. We need to think how we can make our country leaner, more competitive, less highly regulated and more successful. Most of all we can now put a stop to free movement and control our borders. We alone will decide who may and may not enter Britain.
Yet there are also great risks. It's going to be important that we continue to attract investment into the UK. We must make sure there is no period of uncertainty. A clear direction is needed as quickly as possible so that businesses can plan ahead and we can all have confidence in our new journey and our economic future.
There are two ways we could leave the EU. One is with a deal on the single market. The other is we simply go it alone with a friendly wave. Already the nature of the discussion is taking shape. We cannot have free movement. The Europeans could agree to that if we join the single market for trade in goods only. Yet our national advantage is in services. So we would want a single market deal for goods and services without free movement. If no deal can be struck that we can leave and tariffs can be put in place which are set under a World Customs Treaty. Either way we need to be swift about it and settle the position so that businesses and investors can have certainty.
What does this mean for our community? The French may try to return the border to Dover. There are noises on this. However I will always fight to ensure we have a strong Channel Shield in place to keep our border strong. In my discussions with French counterparts, I always underline that the border in Calais is in their interests as much as our own.
The bigger change would be if we left the single market altogether. We would be back to having customs controls in Dover. It would be a challenge space wise to do this as so much trade comes through the port. Customs clearance and freight forwarding would reappear as enterprises although traffic through the port could reduce.
Great changes are taking place. In the next year or so it will come clear on what terms we will leave the European Union. A new chapter will be written in our nation's story.
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