29 MAR 2018

Progress on Brexit

Kent Messenger Column – 29-03-18

Brexit, inevitably, has never been far from the top of the agenda when speaking with people across Maidstone and the Weald in recent weeks. The overwhelming message I receive is for us to roll up our sleeves, get on with the job, support the PM and stop squabbling. Last week we saw substantial progress towards that end, which has been well received.

On Friday, the European Union approved transition arrangements upon our departure from the EU on 29th March 2019. At precisely one year from today that is not far away, and it means our current trading relationship will continue until 31st December 2020.

This transition period will be especially important for us here in Kent where we really are at the sharp end, surrounded by our nation's closest frontier with Europe. It will help ensure that new customs and border security arrangements are implemented smoothly and will also provide greater time for our businesses to prepare for a new relationship with the EU. The announcement has been welcomed by the FSB and the CBI and I too welcome this progress.

The next phase of negotiations, however, is perhaps the most important as the Government seeks to build sustainable future relationships with our 27 European neighbour countries. This week there are reasons to be hopeful; The EU have strongly backed the PM on her expulsion of Russian diplomats following the outrageous Salisbury attacks. The recalling of the EU ambassador from Moscow and further diplomatic expulsions from 14 member states, right on Mr Putin's doorstep, will send a serious message for sure.

I believe it is a clear sign that a mutually beneficial Brexit agreement can be achieved, allowing us to preserve close economic and security ties, whilst regaining control of our cash, our borders and our laws, rules and regulations.

We still have a long way to go, but we seem to be on track.

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