Dover is on the Brexit frontline. More so than anywhere else in the country. That is why I have a particular responsibility as your Member of Parliament. And why I am doing all I can to cushion the impacts to our local economy and infrastructure. At the same time, we must honour the referendum result. That means taking back control of our laws, borders, trade and money while making sure we don't have problems at the border or Kent's roads. Everyone knows what a challenging task that may turn out to be.
That's why since the referendum result, I have been working tirelessly on practical options to keep traffic flowing and our local economy robust.
I travelled to Calais to meet with political leaders in Northern France. We have been working together to ensure the Dover to Calais route continues to be a huge success. Earlier this month the Port of Calais chief insisted there would be no extra checks, deal or no deal. There would be no hold ups. And last week the Port of Dover's new chief executive insisted they are prepared for every eventuality too.
I've also worked with a former Border Force boss, local firms, haulage chiefs and industry leaders on a blueprint to ensure we are ready on day one. We held summits in Parliament and published a detailed report for Ministers.
I organised crunch talks with the Department for Transport too. It was great to get MPs, the port, police, Highways England, Kent County Council and Dover District Council round the table. I am working hard to ensure the Department's priority is to stop port traffic from causing gridlock in Dover town. That Kent's motorways are kept open. And that Kent Police gets the funding they need to be ready for Brexit.
It's vital that our community's voice is heard. Because here at the frontline we know what works and what does not. After all, we've experienced long queues of lorries year after year – before we even thought of leaving the EU.
We must be ready on day one to meet the challenges this historic moment presents. We must also be ready to forge ahead and build a better country. Yet we must also be ready for bumps in the road – and we know some of these bumps could even be pretty jarring.
With the decision to leave the EU made, we must now see Brexit as an opportunity to be grasped, not simply a problem to be managed. We can become world leaders in developing a border fit for the future. We can create jobs and use better technology to crack down on smuggling and people trafficking. We can build on our expanded cargo capacity at the Western Docks and become a hub of global trade, boosting local jobs. Finally, we can invest more in the regions – in towns like Dover and Deal – and put a stop to uncontrolled immigration.
Two-thirds of people in Dover and Deal and 17.4 million people nationwide voted to grasp these opportunities. It is now our job to deliver on the referendum result – and make our country prosperous and successful for generations to come.