Last week was another positive week in the constituency, and I was pleased to get out and about across Mid-Cornwall, meeting with residents and businesses from Newquay to Mevagissey, going to see pupils at schools in St Stephen and St Austell, meeting with Primary School Head Teachers, Cornwall College, the Federation of Small Businesses, Cornwall Housing and Cornwall Partners in Care, as well as dropping in to the G.P. surgery in Fowey.
At the end of the week, the Prime Minister gave her speech on Brexit in Florence. I welcome the points raised in the speech and think this gives a clear update on how negotiations are going, the timescales involved and what the end result will be in terms of our leaving the European Union.
I have had feedback on a variety of things contained in the Prime Minister’s speech and was keen to raise these issues on behalf of the residents of Mid-Cornwall with the Prime Minister when I met with her over the weekend. I thought it would be helpful in this column to address the issue of the implementation period, which is the one that has been most raised with me.
Firstly in terms of the timescale for leaving. I am pleased that in her speech the Prime Minister reiterated and confirmed that:
“The United Kingdom will cease to be a member of the European Union on 29th March 2019.”
“We will no longer sit at the European Council table or in the Council of Ministers, and we will no longer have Members of the European Parliament.”
It is good that the Prime has re-affirmed her commitment to this timetable for us to leave. The announcement of an implementation period of around two years from March 2019 has caused some controversy. In reality, as the Prime Minister said,
“ …the fact is that, by March 2019, neither the UK - nor the EU and its Members States - will be in a position to implement smoothly many of the detailed arrangements that will underpin this new relationship we seek.”
“Neither is the European Union legally able to conclude an agreement with the UK as an external partner while it is itself still part of the European Union.”
The UK’s exiting of the European Union is one of the biggest pieces of legislative change to come along in generations. The changes that need to be made to legally ensure that we are no longer a member are not ones that can be made overnight, both in terms of making the legal changes but also in physically implementing them, both here and in the EU. We need to keep in mind that it had taken more than 40 years for us to reach the point we have in regards to our relationship with the EU and it is simply unrealistic to expect this to be undone in a matter of a few months.
In my conversation with the Prime Minister I was particularly keen to seek reassurances on the implementation period where it comes to immigration. As I said earlier, it will take time to put in place the new laws, particularly the system required to re-take control of the UK’s borders. The Prime Minister reassured me that although, during the implementation period, people will continue to be able to come and live and work in the UK, there will be a registration system – an essential preparation for the new regime. She also confirmed that anyone who comes to live and work here from within the EU after March 2019 will not have the same rights to remain here as those EU citizens who are already here. This is good news and I look forward to seeing this implemented as the negotiations progress.
As always. the devil will be in the detail. While the progression made in the negotiations so far, as outlined by the Prime Minister is encouraging, there is still much more work to do, and I look forward to working with colleagues to scrutinise and challenge if necessary, the plans as they proceed towards us leaving the EU.