Steve Barclay is Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, and MP for North East Cambridgeshire.
It will not have escaped ConservativeHome readers that tomorrow we will finally be getting Brexit done. Friday marks the return of the UK as a sovereign, independent nation.
Nearly four years on from the vote to Leave, and after countless hours of debate we have now ratified the Withdrawal Agreement and can finally deliver on that historic referendum.
This will allow us to move forward as one country and focus on issues that for too long have perhaps not received the attention they deserved. The Government can now fully focus on delivering better public services – whether that is by boosting the NHS with the biggest cash injection in its history, building better infrastructure or controlling immigration.
And crucially we will do so in a way which strengthens every corner of our Union. We will leave as one United Kingdom, free to determine our own future and form partnerships with allies and old and new across the globe.
Whilst we do this we will of course build a strong new relationship with the EU. They are our friends and our sovereign equals. And we are not pulling up the drawbridge, but allowing ourselves the ability to do things differently. We are regaining the ability to choose our own destiny.
ConservativeHome readers know that we are taking back control of our borders, laws, money, trade, farming and fisheries. But what does that mean in practice?
Our manifesto was explicit that we will now control our own laws. We will no longer have the European Court of Justice telling British courts how regulations must be interpreted.
We will mobilise the full breadth of our new freedoms – making sure we are at the forefront in encouraging technology and innovation. By leaving the EU’s slow and cumbersome rulebook we will be able to seize the opportunities afforded by new technologies, and to shape our own regulation in an innovative, pro-business way.
For example, EU directives take a minimum of five years from conception to implementation, something which makes it difficult to keep pace with emerging technologies whether that’s in telecoms or things like driverless cars.
When it comes to farming, leaving the outdated, unfair and regressive Common Agricultural Policy will mean we can restructure our subsidy system in a way which rewards productivity and safeguards our environment, rather than the mere ownership of land.
And after Brexit, we will be able to end cruel practices such as the export of live animals for slaughter – something current EU Single Market rules do not allow – and we will be able to introduce smarter and more bespoke rules for our leading financial services sector.
And on certain totemic issues – such as fishing – we will be able to fully control our waters, making sure our new system works in the interests of British fishermen. We will be able to ensure that they regain control of a fair share of British fish stocks, and we will be able to allocate fish quotas in a more environmentally sustainable way.
From this weekend we will finally start a new chapter which allows us to make decisions in a bespoke way, that works in our interests.
Our election promise was get to Brexit done and unleash Britain’s potential. This government is doing just that. At the start of this new decade, we can look ahead with confidence to the opportunities Brexit will give us.