Daniel Kawczynski is MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Poland.
Throughout previous generations, the United Kingdom has always lead the way in shaping our continent and being at the forefront of promoting trade and common defence.
Theresa May has repeatedly, and rightly, made clear the Government’s unwavering commitment to delivering on the British people’s decision to leave the EU in favour of ‘taking back control’ of Britain’s laws, money and borders.
In the same fashion, May and her Cabinet have made it overwhelmingly clear that while Britain is leaving the EU, it is most definitely not leaving Europe. In good faith, the Government is striving for a deep and special partnership with the EU to continue to work with our closest friends and allies in Europe in overcoming the multitude of threats and challenges we collectively face.
One area where the UK seeks to continue to co-operate extensively with the EU is on security. May’s recent, generous offer to Poland for greater co-operation on security and defence is but one example of Britain’s seriousness in wanting to continue to work with our European friends in such important matters.
European security has recently come under significant strain following the real and dangerous threat of global terrorism.
Britain, in the same way as other European countries such as France and Spain, has directly suffered from the tragic acts of Islamist extremism. The Government thus remains steadfast in its commitment to combatting the threat of terrorism, and is equally committed to its leading role in maintaining European security more generally.
Such a responsibility is peculiar to just a handful of nations, given our unique position as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and as a major European military power with the second largest defence budget on the continent.
As an MP, I am too often exposed to the incessant noise produced by Remainers that Britain’s role as a global player will diminish following the Brexit vote. Such claims have no grounding in reality; Britain is fulfilling its commitment as a member of NATO in spending two per cent of annual GDP on defence, we are playing a vital role in successfully combatting Daesh in the Middle East, and our intelligence services continue to enjoy international repute for their efficacy.
In short, Britain will continue to fulfill its great power obligation of maintaining European security irrespective of Brexit, for with great power comes great responsibility.
With this in mind, it is not simply enough for us to pull out of the EU and thereby save ourselves from the move towards destroying the remaining vestiges of sovereignty and accountability to the electorate. Britain’s global power status on the world stage means it cannot merely overlook the hurtling towards the creation of a super-national state, with a small number of unelected bureaucrats in Brussels dragging more and more authority and responsibility away from sovereign national parliaments.
As a major European power that stands for liberal democratic values we must help those countries in Central and Eastern Europe who also believe in a sovereign nation state, and who also believe in protecting the supremacy of NATO as a common defence posture, as opposed to the German and French intention to create a single European army. The importance of NATO as the most successful military alliance in modern history cannot be overstated, and it must therefore be protected from European federalists at all costs.
In the last century, Central and East European countries had to struggle, first against fascism and later against communism, in attempting to preserve their national sovereignty. Britain must once more do all it can to protect democratic institutions in Central and Eastern states from overbearing, heavily centralised and unelected foreign bureaucracies.
These countries will come under hugely increasing pressure over the coming years from Brussels to undertake the single most important decision which would lead to them no longer being sovereign nations and therefore potentially welded to the EU project. Namely: they will be pressurised to abandon their currencies in favour of the Euro. The only reason we in Britain are able to pull out of the EU is because of the determination of the British people at every stage of this process to safeguard and protect their own currency. You cannot call yourself a sovereign nation state if your currency, your interest rates, and your macroeconomic policy are determined by others.
We as Conservatives must reach out to our partners in countries like Poland and Romania to help them and support them in safeguarding and protecting their own currencies. A time will come when they in turn will see how successfully Britain is operating on the global stage trading successfully with both well-established and successful economies and with rapidly emerging markets, unfettered and unshackled from the regulations and bureaucracy of Brussels. They will want to join us in an alternative to the EU, which is what we always wanted.
A group of sovereign European states advancing prosperity and peace by trading with one another and protecting one another through NATO. These are Conservative beliefs. Following the Brexit vote, it is clear that these are the British people’s beliefs. For the sake of peace, prosperity and democracy, I hope that these can one day be European beliefs, too.