We have been presented with a golden opportunity as a country.

Our withdrawal from the European Union will mean for the first time in a generation the British people, not Brussels, will control our law making, borders and who we trade with.

This is what the Government is determined to deliver and it is what people voted for on June 23rd last year. I am working hard here in Westminster to support the Government in delivering this objective as Chair of the European Research Group. The Government has also formed a new department, the Department for Exiting the EU led by Secretary of State for Exiting the EU David Davis, specifically for the job of leaving the EU. 

There is not a hard or soft Brexit. Leaving the EU means leaving the Single Market so we can control our own borders once more. It means leaving the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice so we can take back control of our lawmaking. It means unshackling ourselves from the Customs Union so we can boldly forge our own trade agreements with not just our European friends, but our global partners as well . I have set out in more detail what each of these EU institutions currently do and why it is so important for Brexit that we free ourselves from them. 

The Single Market

The Single Market is the internal market/European Economic Area (EEA) of the EU. It was established through the Treaty of Rome in 1957, which aimed to abolish "obstacles to freedom of movement for [goods], persons, services and capital". These "four freedoms" form the bedrock of the Single Market - or the "common market" as it was then known.

Leaving the EU cannot mean membership of the EU's single market. This would involve accepting its four freedoms. We could not, for example, regain control of our borders and set our own immigration policy. It would also mean complying with the EU's rules and regulations with no say over them. By remaining a member of the single market, the UK would effectively not be leaving the EU at all. It would mean less control for the UK not more.


The European Court of Justice

Leaving ECJ jurisdiction is a basic requirement of Brexit if we are to take back control of our laws. The ECJ is a key part of the European Union. It is charged with upholding both the rules and spirit of the EU treaties, including the ambition of ever closer union. We cannot leave the EU and have any kind of meaningful Brexit if we do not also leave the ECJ. This is because the ECJ is formally supreme, as a member state it overrules British domestic law and British courts must defer to its judgements.

In order to provide maximum certainty for businesses and citizens the Government has proposed a time-limited and formally agreed implementation period of around two years. I believe that this is in the interests of both the UK and the EU, but this is a matter for negotiation. 

So that we provide maximum certainty while we implement our new arrangements, this period may follow existing rules closely. As the Prime Minister, Theresa May, and the Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, have said that may mean that we start off with the ECJ still governing the rules we are part of for that period. However, this is fundamentally a matter for negotiation.


Customs Union

The EU's Customs Union is an agreement that allows goods to pass between countries within the EU's borders without customs checks, and imposes common tariffs on the EU's external frontier.

If we remain a member of the Customs Union we won't be able to decide our own trade policy. This will continue to be determined by EU politicians. Staying in comes at the cost of giving up important flexibility. The UK would be unable to realise the opportunities of Brexit, including by signing trade deals with the fastest-growing and largest economies, such as the USA, China, Japan and India, with which the EU has been unable to make an agreement.

In order to realise the Prime Minister’s vision of a nation exporting goods and services around the world, open for international business, supporting emerging markets and spreading the benefits of economic growth, Britain will need to liberate itself from the burdens of the customs union. Only in leaving will we truly be a beacon of international free trade.


No deal scenario 

I believe that a future partnership between the UK and the EU is in the interests of both sides. As the Prime Minister has explained, a good deal for Britain and a good deal for Europe are not competing alternatives and they are not mutually exclusive. I do not want or expect an outcome with no deal, but a responsible government should, of course, prepare for all eventualities and this is exactly what my ministerial colleagues are doing. This includes the scenario where no agreement can be reached.

Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, I and the Government are determined to make the most of the opportunities that leaving the EU presents. We are a global nation and we will be making new trade deals with countries from around the world. I believe that the Government needs the flexibility to leave without a deal, if such a deal is not in our best interest.




MPs are to begin their line by line scrutiny of the EU Withdrawal Bill, the central piece of Brexit legislation. Hundreds of amendments have been put forward by MPs who want changes to the bill before it becomes law. On Monday, Brexit Secretary David Davis said MPs would be given a take-it-or leave-it vote on the final deal before the UK leaves the European Union. MPs would be able to debate and vote on any agreement negotiated with the EU by the government. But Mr Davis said the UK would still leave the EU on 29 March 2019, whether MPs backed or rejected the deal. The Brexit date will be enshrined in law as part of the bill – in a move announced by Prime Minister Theresa May last Friday. – BBC


If Brexit is bad for British business, global dealmakers are not paying attention. The UK is still their favourite place in Europe to invest, according to a survey by Ernst & Young. Business executives from around the world ranked Britain third behind the United States and China as the top investment destination, ahead of Germany and France, the New York-based consultancy said in its Global Capital Confidence Barometer report. “Doing deals is in the DNA of UK companies,” said Steve Krouskos, EY’s global vice chair of transaction advisory services. “The UK is home to the most important assets sought by dealmakers — technology, talent and intellectual property — so it always has been and always will be a major player.” – Independent


The UK is still the most attractive European country for employers and staff following the Brexit vote, according to a report by Colliers International. A combination of talent, location, quality of life and cost puts Britain ahead, the commercial property company said. London ranks first in the league table of 50 European cities, with Birmingham, Edinburgh, Manchester, Bristol and Glasgow also featuring in the top 20. – Guardian


The UK aerospace sector is batting away Brexit blues, after the industry globally soared to a bumper third quarter for commercial aircraft deliveries, according to trade body Aerospace Defence Security (ADS). The total value to UK industry from the deliveries was estimated at up to £7bn, taking the total value so far for the year to £20bn. ADS said the industry looks on track to top 2016’s record year for deliveries with a final flourish expected to round off 2017. – City A.M.


Rail companies, their suppliers, and Network Rail, have today set out plans to work more closely together, in order to drive £85bn of additional economic benefits to the UK economy. Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train firms and Network Rail, said the plan “will deliver the railway that the economy, customers and communities need as Britain prepares to leave the European Union”. – City A.M.


British consumer confidence continues to bounce back, surging to its highest since March, according to a new poll out today. The analysis of over 6,000 interviews was carried out by YouGov and the Centre for Economics and Business Research (Cebr), with its consumer confidence index for October showing the score had increased from 108.7 last month to 109.3. A score over 100 reflects that more consumers were confident than not. – City A.M.


My thoughts 

You can find my most recent opinions on Brexit and our negotiations with the EU below: