Saturday, 3 December 2016

A speech for Mrs May

It seems to me that the government is trying to avoid the one get out of jail free card they have because politically it is unpalatable. This is a mess of their own making. The only way out is to show some political backbone. 

Mrs May has stated that she does not seek an off the shelf solution, but that was before certain realities came to light. Now she is painted into a corner. Her only way out now is to stand up to her sizeable lunatic fringe and save face with the electorate. To that end I have written a speech she would do well to give. 

Brexit means Brexit. By a small but decisive margin Britain has voted to leave the EU. That decision has sharply divided the country. The question is now one of how we move forward together while honouring that verdict.

For whatever reasons, one thing that unites those who voted to leave is the belief that Britain must be an independent sovereign nation. But those who voted to remain value the open relations we share with our European allies. There is no reason why Britain cannot be both sovereign and open.

To that end, we must seek to reconcile the irreconcilable. It starts with the recognition that Brexit is a process, not an event. Forty years of social, political and economic integration is not undone overnight. It will take many years to complete the process. In the execution of this we must reassure our allies that we are open for business. We must end the uncertainty.

When I first said that Brexit means Brexit I said that we would seek a British option. That has not changed. But there is a momentous task ahead of us with only a short time to negotiate. That means we will need a number of transitional measures. Our most important goal is to ensure that we retain the best possible access to the single market for our goods and services.

Consequently Britain will seek to retain membership of the European Economic Area until such a time where we have prepared the ground for our eventual departure from the single market.

From the very first day of Brexit a number of powers are returned to us over multiple policy areas including trade, aid, agriculture, fishing, home affairs, employment, justice, foreign and defence. Before we can take on these responsibilities we will need to prepare the ground and rebuild our domestic capabilities. For that reason we will negotiate a number of interim measures to allow for the safe handover of powers.

In this we recognise that many who voted to leave seek an end to freedom of movement. We have to respect that. There are a number of precedents that says we can change the nature of it. But we should also be mindful that Britain prospers by having a liberal arrangement with the EU and we would never want to be closed off from our friends, colleagues and family. We will seek to negotiate a fair settlement. We do not accept that anything is non-negotiable.

There are those who would have us slam the door on Europe. That is not in our interests and that would be counter to all of our best traditions. We seek the best of relations with our European neighbours in all things. We will continue to cooperate on a number of platforms in several areas of policy. To that end we will make a fair financial contribution in those areas where working together brings the best value for Britain.

In any relationship there must be compromise. Give and take. In respect of that we will maintain a degree of regulatory compatibility and we will, by mutual agreement, seek out areas of common practice. But this does not mean giving up our sovereignty. 

Sovereignty means many things to many people. In this context it ultimately means the right to say no. And it is on that principle which we voted to leave. But we should also note, in the spirit of cooperation that just because we can say no, it does not mean we always will. We must still seek out a common path for peace and security in Europe and tackle those threats to our common values of democracy, free speech and friendship.

Brexit is a question of forging a new relationship with Europe. One that is built on mutual respect - as a partner not a member. Britain must find its own path in the world seeking permission from no-one to act in its own interests. It is the feeling of the electorate that the EU is not the means through which we can achieve our goals. By leaving we can be a better friend to the EU, acting in support on the global stage when we need to but standing our ground when necessary.

We intend to seek a settlement that will allow us to be that close ally. We will seek to safeguard good relations, recognising the massive contribution EU citizens have made to our economic and social life. In this we will be firm but fair. We know we won't get all that we want, and it would be wrong to suggest otherwise, but we will achieve an agreement that restores Britain as an independent nation.

Our goal must be to bring about an amicable agreement that will settle a long running dispute, not just with Europe but within the country as well. This is an issue that has plagued several administrations and it is long past the time we brought resolution to it. It's time to part with the past and begin building a new Britain, healing the rifts and uniting the country.

Beyond Brexit we must once again show leadership and demonstrate that peace and prosperity is achieved through openness and cooperation. We will take our place alongside the EU in all of the global institutions and we will speak in our own name in our own right. We will show that Britain is ready to do business and that we seek the same level of friendship with others as we have with Europe. What we have achieved in Europe we will export to the world, and once again be a Britain we can all take pride in. 

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