Alexander Stafford is MP for Rother Valley.
Boris Johnson is likely to bring a deal back to the country in the near future. The question is whether this deal will match up to the expectations of the nation – those that propelled him to his landslide electoral success last year.
In my view, the Centre for Brexit Policy has produced the definitive list of tests that the Prime Minister’s Brexit deal will need to pass to be considered a success. These tests are broken down into four main areas: sovereignty, the UK-EU trading relationship, governance, and compliance with the 2019 Conservative Election Manifesto.
The country will never forgive the Conservative Party if we do not uphold the manifesto commitments that led to the storming of the Red Wall. Therefore, it is vital that the Brexit deal that Johnson brings back to the nation will respect the promises we made before the 2019 election.
We must take back control of our laws, borders, money, and fish. We cannot have any part of the UK remaining part of the EU customs union or single market. Nor can we allow the new relationship to be based on EU laws or treaties, rather than free trade or friendly cooperation.
Any deal that will prevent the UK from full control over our trade policy is likewise unacceptable. We must be able to regain our sovereignty and be free to conduct ourselves as a free and independent trading nation. Any constraints or EU control over our decision making, our laws, or our trading arrangements would fly in the face of the freedom that the country voted for. For example, are trade negotiations with other third countries going to be undermined or hindered by the terms of the coming Brexit Deal?
One of the most important challenges will be to have fully removed the UK from the control of the European Union’s legal power – for example, our freedom to provide state aid to industry. Britain cannot be considered a fully independent, sovereign nation if we are still beholden to the European Court of Justice and legally required to apply any aspect of EU law to any part of the UK – especially if it breaks up the internal customs market of the UK. If the Brexit Deal ensures that EU law has ‘direct effect’ and supremacy in UK courts over UK domestic law, including over Acts of Parliament, then it simply is unacceptable.
We know that the Red Wall turned Blue in large part due to our party’s stance on Brexit. We must repay that trust because, if we do not, we risk losing all that we have gained in the region.
Previous polling of Red Wall voters carried out by Savanta ComRes – especially those who switched to the Conservative Party – has shown, if the Conservative Party were not to deliver on its promises to “Get Brexit Done”, to deliver Brexit by the end of 2020, to leave the single market or the customs union, a quarter of Red Wall voters would be less likely to vote Conservative. Reaching the level of our 2019 victory – where we won more votes than any party for 25 years – would likely become unattainable.
Voters would see that, on the most pressing issue of the past 40 years, the Conservative Party was unable to keep its word. But I have ever confidence that we will deliver and finally, fully, free us from the EU.