Priti writes in The Sun today, “It’s time to chuck Chequers”
EXCLUSIVE by Priti Patel, former International Development Secretary and Conservative MP for Witham
How in the world did we get here?
After the British people voted to leave the European Union we were told “Brexit means Brexit” and that critical “red lines” would guide our negotiations with the EU.
So far, so good.
Fast forward to today and we live in a different world.
The so-called Chequers Agreement, crosses all those “red lines”.
We are dancing the hockey-cokey with the Customs Union and Single Market, which means restricting our freedom for new free trade agreements.
These off course are critical to the national economic success of Brexit.
European regulations will remain in force (with no input from the UK), so we stay under the rule of European courts and provide a back door for continued freedom of movement for EU nationals into Britain.
Our laws and courts will not be supreme as Chequers would leave us being run by remote control from Brussels.
To frighten us into submission we are spoon feed a daily diet of tales of food shortages, soldiers in the streets and tailbacks from Dover to Land’s End.
But the political graveyards are full of people who underestimated the good sense of the British people, the very people who want to be in command of their own destiny and who don’t want to be taken advantage off by the EU.
And don’t forget that despite Project Fear in the Referendum, the public still voted to Leave and the fearmongering was proven false.
So false that the fear of recession and job losses was met by a growing economy, UK manufacturing output growing at its fastest rate in a decade, exports to the USA in 2016 exceeding £100 billion, more than twice as much as exports to any other country, and the fact that UK economy is worth more than £2 trillion and is the 6th largest in the world.
Project Fear was proven false and so will this latest version of fear which speaks volumes about what the Government thinks of voters – sheep to frighten into the right pen.
But sheep we are not.
I’ve spent the last few weeks meeting Party activists, businesses and the public, supporters of Leave and Remain from across the Country and the view is that Chequers will not give us our economic and political freedom.
Their concerns are simple.
There can be no halfway house, where Britain continues to be out of
Europe in name but is still run by Europe.
There can be no half way house when it comes to rule taking and law making from the EU and there is an overwhelming sense of frustration that Britain is being taken advantage of by the EU.
And across the heartlands of the UK, this matters as they are one’s who have been left behind and are desperate to take back control of our laws, borders and our money.
There will also be long term consequences if the largest democratic vote in British history is frustrated.
We will face a crisis of democracy in which ordinary people will utterly lose their faith and trust in politics and in politicians.
The implications for political parties at the polls when they fail to deliver is clear, the public will stop voting for them.
We cannot ignore the people.
The Conservative Party could throw away hard-won gains in pro-Leave constituencies across the North-East and Midlands if we continue to compromise on the referendum -and conceded ground to Brussels.
Across Europe we have seen political parties and Governments do exactly that and the result is a wave of terrifying extreme forms of nationalism and populism.
That is not the British way because when our Government’s deliver, they deliver for our country and our people.
The time has come for our political leaders to believe in Britain and in the British people.
They should abandon its weak-kneed approach and instead play to our strengths.
Britain wants to secure a trade deal with the EU and seeks to establish a ‘strong and special partnership’ with them.
Talk of ‘No Deal’ really means no trade deal, and if the EU fails to reach a free trade agreement with Britain in the long term we can thrive under WTO rules.
The UK exports to 111 countries under WTO rules and over the last 23 years this grew at a rate of 2.9 per cent, which was three times faster than those exporting to the EU15.
We also know that the European Commission thanks to the many political problems across the European Union desperately needs British taxpayers to foot the “exit payment” of £39 billion to balance their budget.
And 1.2 million EU jobs depend on selling goods to Britain, with London providing much needed financing to EU businesses.
Brexit will not be easy.
There is hard work to do but we are up to the task.
We are a free and independent country and will prosper if given a proper chance.
But to let the British lion roar again the first step is to “chuck Chequers.”