Roger Helmer: We wouldn’t be in this position if it weren’t for UKIP

This story is over

Let’s not forget – the vote to leave the EU and the subsequent move to approach triggering Article 50 could not have been done without UKIP.

It is good to hear our Prime Minister Theresa May pledging to start the formal process of leaving the EU in March next year. We can then be truly independent and continue to make our economy thrive and grow. Certainly, there has been astonishingly good economic news post the Brexit-vote.

Credit is due to the prime minister, particularly on refusing to compromise on immigration, regardless of the single market question. But we should remember we would never have reached this position, and Theresa May (who voted Remain) would never have made that speech, but for all the work that UKIP has done over the years.

As we approach the substantive negotiations on Brexit, there are three things I’d like our politicians and our media to remember:

1. Single Market – They all talk about access to the single market, and forget that every country in the world has access to the single market, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe.

2. Free trade not linked to free movement – We are constantly told (as if it were a truism) that free trade requires free movement. It does not. The EU has free trade agreements with dozens of countries, and is negotiating more. Apart from the special cases of Switzerland and Norway (which effectively have quasi-membership of the EU), none of those agreements includes free movement. And Brussels would have refused free movement if the other parties had asked for it.

3. Our negotiating position – We have a hugely strong negotiating position, as the rump-EU’s largest external customer bar none. We are not going cap-in-hand to Brussels asking for favours. But we are prepared to offer Brussels free and fair access to our vital market provided we can do so on reciprocal terms.

As independence approaches we must make it clear we are not begging for a deal. We are offering Brussels the opportunity to negotiate terms to protect the EU’s own interests.

It was interesting to note that after digesting the prime minister’s speech that control of our borders, laws and money should be in our parliament’s hands. All these are UKIP policies as is the government’s flagship grammar school policy.

Remainers will have to accept the people’s referendum decision and it is good to see that UKIP’s campaigning position is again vindicated and replicated

What we in UKIP must do is to keep up the electoral pressure on. Nobody else will. We have shown our political campaigning power brings results on democracy, education and taxation and we will not let the decision-makers rest until Brexit is achieved.

My final point – what we would like to hear is the prime minister’s commitment and pledge to protect our fishing industry – something missing from her speech.

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