[Ed:there is no photo of the new PM as of yet, so Larry, the cat at 10 Downing Street, is graciously standing in for him.]
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Although we are a while away from knowing who our next Prime Minister is going to be, this month I have decided to do something a bit different and write an inaugural speech for whoever will be Mrs May’s successor. How close these words will be to what he actually says remains to be seen, but something along these lines is definitely what we ought to be hearing:
“I would like to thank my colleagues in the Conservative Party – both my fellow MPs and the loyal party members – for giving me this chance to serve my country as Prime Minister. I am taking office at a crucial time in our nation’s history as we prepare to leave the European Union and I would like to say at the outset that my first priority after taking office will be to ensure that this mandate, given to us three years ago by the British people, will indeed be fulfilled without any further hold up.
The strength of the vote for the Brexit Party at the European Parliamentary elections – along with our own dismal performance – was a wake-up call for us. We, the Conservatives, have to become the real Brexit Party. We have to ensure that there are no more delays to our departure from the European Union and I have no intention of asking for a further extension. Come hell or high water, with or without an agreement, we will be leaving the EU on 31st October this year.
We have no alternative. Our party faces its biggest challenge since the repeal of the corn laws in 1846. Another delay to Brexit and I fear for its future and indeed for the future of our country as a whole. We need to rebuild the trust of those millions of voters who deserted us in the two elections in May and this will only be possible if we do not further renege on our manifesto promise.
Of course, I do not want to leave the EU without some sort of arrangement for trade in place, but it has to be an arrangement which does not turn us into a vassal state. As you know, I was a consistent opponent of the withdrawal agreement negotiated with the European Union by my predecessor because I did not believe it to be in our nation’s interests. After all, we all know that around Europe, it was described as a capitulation and that Martin Selmayr, chief of staff to the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, told a group of EU officials last November that “the power is with us” and that he wanted the withdrawal agreement to show that Brexit doesn’t work.
Well, I believe it can work and it will work under an alternative exit arrangement. We can make a success of Brexit and I fully intend to do so. I believe in Brexit with all my heart. My track record is sufficient evidence of this and I intend to sell Brexit both to those of my colleagues in Parliament and also to the general public who are yet to be convinced.
And this, I believe, brings me to the consideration of why we have reached the state we are in. Where has the enthusiasm gone? Why have we heard so little from the government over the last three years about the many positive benefits of leaving the European Union? Our fishermen can be free from the shackles of the Common Fisheries Policy which has decimated their industry. We can become a champion for free trade at a time when protectionism is raising its ugly head. We can more easily form trade links with the dynamic, growing economies of Asia and Latin America from outside the European Union.
Our armed forces will no longer be involved in the EU’s empire building and will return to being under national control. We can review all those laws put onto our statute books by the EU and if they are not in our national interest and did not originate with a global body to which we will still belong, we can rewrite or discard them. UK citizens will no longer be subject to the vagaries of the Napoleonic-inquisitorial justice systems on the continent as a result of a European Arrest Warrant being served on them.
Our young people, who have been the least enthusiastic supporters of leaving the EU but are struggling to get onto the housing ladder, will benefit from the reduction in immigration that will result from the end of free movement of people. There will be less pressure on our housing market as a result, while at the same time, their desire to travel, work and study abroad are unlikely greatly to be affected.
Above all, the whole country will benefit by being governed by people who are accountable to them, with unelected bureaucrats in Brussels no longer having more influence over our day-to-day lives than our local MPs.
In summary, we have a great future ahead of us as the leaders of Free Europe, an example for other countries who may not feel that the EU is for them.
However, we have yet to arrive at this point and I am under no illusions about the challenges we face in the coming months. I am very aware that the margin of victory for the leave campaign in 2016 was not that huge and the delays in our departure has polarised public opinion. I want to address this by reaching out to those who supported remaining in the EU.
For example, in choosing my cabinet and other ministerial positions, I will not make it a sine qua non that every ministerial position must be filled by a long-standing Brexiteer. Some of my colleagues who campaigned to stay in the EU now believe that we can prosper as an independent country. Some are still personally not enthusiastic about leaving, but have shown by their words and actions their genuine commitment to honour the result of the 2016 referendum.
Whichever way anyone voted three years ago, my main concern is where they stand now. If they share my determination to deliver what we promised to deliver, I will be very happy to consider them for ministerial office, but what I – and indeed the country as a whole – cannot accept is a government in a state of paralysis because of the lack of consensus at cabinet level.
I will also be looking for civil servants who are committed to delivering Brexit. Anyone with their own agenda will have no place in my team. And while I’m at it, I will be setting up a team to trawl through all our statute books since the Middle Ages as I’m sure that lurking somewhere in acts of Parliament since 1377 is a procedure that will enable me to remove that horrid little oik who currently occupies the Speaker’s chair and has disgraced it for far too long.
[To be continued in tomorrow’s INDEPENDENCE Daily]