David Davis – 2017 Speech in Berlin

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, in Berlin on 16 November 2017.

Thank you for inviting me to speak here tonight.

It’s a privilege to be here, at Berlin’s Museum of Communication, to talk to you about how the United Kingdom is approaching talks to leave the European Union.

I’m not here tonight to give you a blow-by-blow account of the Brexit negotiations.

I’m sure have already got that from the pages of Suddeutsche Zeitung already.

And I’m sure I’ll be answering questions about that once we’ve finished.

Just to say we have made a great deal of progress in the negotiations to date – far more than is understood by most people.

I’ve come to talk about the future for Europe these talks will create and their importance to generations to come.

Earlier this evening I spent a little time walking around this incredible museum.

To see the evolution of technology that has made our world closer and more interconnected than ever before.

Put simply, what I believe is this:

In that more interconnected world, it’s more important than ever that the United Kingdom and Germany work together to protect the values and interests that we share.

Values that define our relationship, and are more important than our membership of particular institutions.

Values of democracy.

Of the rule of law.

Of human rights.

Of economic liberalism.

And of freedom.

These are the values that will guide the new partnership we want with the European Union.

Shared interests

I know that the UK and Germany came to the EU from different starting points.

For Germany, and others, the creation of the EU is still seen properly as a foundation for peace and stability, democracy and justice, across our continent.

The UK’s experience is different.

For us the European Union — and the European Economic Community before it — was primarily an economic endeavour.

One that bolstered trade but which always provoked public debate about the political integrity of sovereign states.

Now this isn’t to say that one is right and the other is wrong.

Indeed they are linked.

Trade and peace have always been mutually beneficial objectives.

But simply we have always viewed the Union differently.

Germany was a founder member. We chose not to be.

Germany was a founder of the euro. Again, we stayed out.

It also doesn’t mean that we do not see the value in the wider political project for Europe.

There cannot be any doubt that we want to see the European Union succeed and flourish.

It’s in both of our interests.

And while the British people have had their say, and we have decided to leave the institutions of the European Union.

Brexit does not and will not mean the end of our relationship with the EU or indeed with Germany.

Or that trade between the UK and Germany should reduce.

Neither does it undermine, or reduce, our unwavering commitment to Europe’s security.

I believe, with determination from both sides, the opposite can be true.

So we need to create the right structures for after our European Union exit that will enable our partnership to thrive.

We will always – always – stand up to the shared threats our continent faces and cooperate on the security of Europe.

And the close economic ties that we both benefit from should continue, if not strengthen, in the years to come.

The weight of evidence requires it.

Bilateral trade between the United Kingdom and Germany is worth a total of 176 billion euros a year.

Spanning the entire economy.

And that’s more than a thousand euros to every man, woman, and child in both our countries.

In 2015, two billion euros worth of German aviation exports were sold in Britain’s markets.

In the same year 8.5 billion of chemical and rubber exports went to the UK.

And 29 billion of automotive exports, from your biggest manufacturers BMW, Mercedes and the like, end up on British roads.

That translates to roughly one in three cars sold in Britain — that’s 810,000 cars — coming from Germany.

For our part, Germany is the UK’s second biggest trading partner – receiving 9% of our exports — and we’re your fourth biggest investor.

Meanwhile 220,000 Germans work for the 1,200 British companies in Germany.

That trade creates jobs.

It boosts prosperity.

And it creates wealth not just in Britain, not just in Germany, but across the entire continent.

I have twice served on the boards of FTSE100 businesses and I’ve seen it myself first hand.

In the face of those facts I know that no one would allow short-term interests to risk those hard-earned gains.

Because putting politics above prosperity is never a smart choice.

Two months ago, our Prime Minister Theresa May explained a bold ambition for the form of our future relationship.

One that ensures these links with our friends and partners, such as Germany, are maintained and indeed, strengthened.

It goes beyond just wanting a positive outcome to the negotiations.

Because fundamentally, it is about the kind of country that the UK wants to be, after we leave the European Union.

I recognise that, since the referendum last year, some in the European Union have had their doubts about what kind of country we are or indeed what we stand for.

Now if you want to know the mind of a nation all one must do is read its press.

So with that in mind I looked through some copies of Suddeutsche Zeitung.

I read that “Britain wants to isolate itself”, that we are “short-sighted islanders”, or at least that’s how I translated “Inselbewohner”.

Well I’m afraid I have to disagree.

We are the same country we have always been.

With the same values and same principles we have always had.

A country upon which our partners can rely.

The sixth largest economy in the world and a beacon for free trade across the globe.

And when it comes to trade — as we forge a new path for Britain outside the European Union — I believe we can be its boldest advocate.

Continued security cooperation

Being a country that our partners rely on also means the United Kingdom continuing to play its part in maintaining the security of the continent.

From mass migration to terrorism, there are countless issues which pose challenges to our shared European interests and values that we can only solve in partnership.

That’s why we have already set out our ambition for continued partnership in areas such as security, defence, law-enforcement and counter-terrorism.

Drawing on the full weight of our military, intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement and development resources to lead action both inside and outside Europe.

Hand in hand with our closest allies and partners our determination to defend the stability, security and prosperity of the European continent remains steadfast.

Because the threats that European people face are the same, whether they are attending a pop concert in Manchester, Christmas markets in Berlin or simply using public transport in Brussels, Madrid or London.

Britain always has – and always will – stand with its friends and allies in defence of those values that we share.

And, of course, the United Kingdom always has been — and always will be — a country which honours its international commitments and obligations.

This is more than just rhetoric.

If we spent the European Union average on defence and international development, and other foreign affairs, we’d spend 22 billion pounds a year less than we currently do.

That’s money that demonstrates how seriously we take our role on the world stage and it’s money that we’ll continue to spend in our mutual interest.

Future economic partnership

Because of our shared values and shared history, we’re ambitious and optimistic about our future partnership with the European Union.

Of course, life will be different. We recognise that we can’t leave the European Union and have everything stay the same.

And as we leave, we will be leaving the single market and the customs union.

This is not an ideologically driven decision but a practicality based on what our people voted for and the respect we have for the four freedoms of the EU.

It’s clear that the British people voted to have greater control.

Greater control over our borders.

Greater control over our laws.

And a greater say over the United Kingdom’s destiny in the world.

Now as we look to the future, we understand that the single market’s four freedoms are indivisible.

And that it is built on a balance of rights and obligations.

So we don’t pretend that you can have all the benefits of membership of the single market without its obligations.

However, we are seeking a new framework that allows for a close economic partnership but that holds those rights and obligations in a new and different balance.

That recognises both our unique starting point and our trusted, historic relationship.

We will be a third country partner like no other.

Much closer than Canada, much bigger than Norway, and uniquely integrated on everything from energy networks to services.

The key pillar of this will be a deep and comprehensive free trade agreement – the scope of which should beyond any the European Union has agreed before.

One that allows for a close economic partnership while holding the UK’s rights and obligations in a new and different balance.

It should, amongst other things, cover goods, agriculture and services, including financial services.

Seeking the greatest possible tariff-free trade, with the least friction possible.

And it should be supported by continued close cooperation in highly-regulated areas such as transportation, energy and data.

Race to the top

Because there is so much that, even after we exit the European Union, the UK will continue to share with our European partners.

Like our European counterparts, people in Britain do not want shoddy goods, shoddy services, a poor environment or exploitative working practices.

We cannot be cheaper than China.

And we’ll never have more resources than Brazil.

And that is why the UK is committed not only to protecting high standards, but to strengthening them.

So after we leave the European Union we will not engage in a race to the bottom.

That would mean lower standards for our consumers and poorer prospects for our workers.

After Brexit, Britain will have an independent trade policy and we will use it to lead a “race to the top” on quality and standards across the globe.

A race that both Britain and Germany are well equipped to win.

And where it makes sense for our economies where we can, we will want to do so by working in tandem with our European partners — and especially with Germany.

For example, we have worked closely with Germany in the G20, especially through the Financial Stability Board.

This has set global standards for financial businesses, aimed at averting any new international financial crises.

Goods and services

So the real question is how should this economic partnership work for the most important parts of our economy — goods and services.

Our trade in goods is deeply integrated — and I believe it’s in the interests of both parties that this is maintained.

That consumers and businesses must continue to have access to the widest possible range of goods.

That UK and European businesses should be able to continue to work together through integrated supply chains.

And that the safety of consumers, patients and food should be paramount in any agreement.

The first step is ensuring that we maintain tariff-free access across the board.

There is precedent for this already.

The Canada-EU free trade agreement will eventually remove tariffs on all industrial goods; and most tariff lines for non-industrial goods.

But we can go further than that.

Because we already have established supply chains.

And unlike other agreements, it is not a case of opening up a previously-protected market to new challengers from abroad.

We should be trying to maintain what we already have.

Think of a BMW car, produced here in Germany to be sold in the United Kingdom.

Currently, that car only has to undergo one series of approvals, in one country, to show that it meets the required regulatory standards.

And those approvals are accepted across the European Union.

That’s exactly the sort of arrangement we want to see maintained even after we leave the European Union.

We also fully trust each other’s institutions.

For decades we have been happy to let German bodies carry out the necessary assessments to make sure that products — from cars to medical devices — are fit to go to market in the United Kingdom.

And our regulators work together within European Agencies.

Collaborating on scientific assessments to authorise products from medicines to chemicals for use across the European Union and sharing data on public health and safety risks.

Leaving the European Union should not necessarily change our approach on cooperation — even as we diverge.

Services

These principles are true, not only for goods, but also for services.

They form an essential element of both the United Kingdom and the European Union’s economy.

Both collectively and individually, we have been leading the way in opening up the trade in services across borders.

And our new partnership should keep with this tradition.

Our objective is that services can be traded across borders, in areas ranging from highly regulated sectors — such as financial services to modern ones such as artificial intelligence.

Even here, we will need a common set of principles to underpin our new partnership in services.

An obvious starting point for this is our shared adherence to common international standards.

To ensure that there is no discrimination in highly regulated areas between services providers.

Our approach here must be evidence-based, symmetrical and transparent.

But, of course, for such an approach to be lasting over time, there will need to be a couple of further things in place.

First, there must be continued cooperation between our public authorities, building on their long history of working together.

And second, we must have an effective dispute resolution mechanism.

This should provide for clear and proportionate remedies for any dispute which might arise.

You wouldn’t expect that arbitration to be in the UK courts, nor can it be the European Court of Justice.

It must be appropriate for both sides, so that it can give business the confidence it needs for this partnership will endure.

Movement of workers

But services trade is not only about regulation.

Even in today’s modern world, services are often still provided in person, on the ground.

This means people must be able to move to provide those services.

While the free movement of people will end when we leave the EU, the UK has been clear that this does not mean pulling up the drawbridge — or doing harm to our shared interests.

The UK will continue to welcome people, both from the EU and around the world, who want to work and contribute to our society.

Services provisions are commonplace in trade agreements today but as in other areas and given where we are starting, the UK and the European Union should seek to go beyond existing arrangements and existing precedents.

And in many cases, the ability for people to move to provide services will not be enough.

They will also have to have their qualifications recognised.

Again, another area where our unique starting point is important.

Currently, many UK qualifications are recognised across the European Union and vice versa.

Since the creation of the current recognition system in 1997, nearly 26,000 UK qualified professionals have succeeded in getting their qualification recognised in another Member State.

And after the UK leaves the European Union, the quality of training received at British universities and the high standards needed to gain these qualifications will not change.

And we are sure the same is true for the European Union.

We have recognised and trusted these qualifications on the current basis for over two decades.

And that’s why we would like to agree a continued system for the mutual recognition of qualifications to support these arrangements.

How we get there

So one of the biggest questions we face is how we get from where we are currently to this new partnership.

But as we work out the path together, I would urge us all to think creatively about how we can best exploit our unique starting point.

But no matter what approach we take, both sides will need time to implement those new arrangements.

And, that’s why the Prime Minister set out in her Florence speech that we want to secure a time-limited transition period.

And that would mean access to the UK and European markets would continue on current terms.

Keeping both the rights of a European Union member and the obligations of one, such as the role of the European Court of Justice.

That also means staying in all the EU regulators and agencies during that limited period which, as I say, we expect will be about two years.

This means that companies will only have to prepare for one set of changes, as the relationship between Britain and the European Union evolves.

There are three main reasons we see the need for such a period.

Number one — it allows the UK Government the time to set up any new infrastructure or systems which may be needed to support our new arrangements.

Number two — it allows European Union governments to do the same.

It should not be forgotten that, our new arrangements may well require changes on the EU’s side as well as on the United Kingdom’s side.

For example Calais, which sees over two and a half million road haulage vehicles come in from Dover each year.

They’ll have to accommodate for that.

And number three — and most importantly — it avoids businesses in both the United Kingdom and the European Union having to take any decisions before they know the shape of the final deal.

Without such an implementation period, some of these decisions would need to be taken in the near future on the basis of guesswork.

And that is why we want to agree this period as soon as the European Union have a mandate to do so.

There is urgency to this; for all 28 Member States, including the UK and Germany, and for our businesses and citizens.

My message to you is that when it comes to an implementation period, and our economic partnership, you are not detached observers you are essential participants.

Conclusion

Now I’ve laid out what I think the solutions, and even the opportunities, can be as we leave the European Union and forge a new relationship over the coming decades.

But I am under no illusions.

I know that the negotiations currently underway are difficult and they will be into the future.

Despite all this, as the United Kingdom exits the European Union, I have no doubt that the future for all 28 members is bright.

We’re very lucky, the Brits and the Germans.

We live in prosperous countries, whose inhabitants enjoy great lives, and great cultures.

Who have freedom and privacy, justice and democracy, with strong economies that support people into work, and provide a safety net for people who can’t.

And we’re lucky enough to live in a world where technology and globalisation — while challenging governments — creates huge opportunities.

Our future will be brighter still if we achieve the positive, ambitious partnership we are aiming for.

It’s one that is unprecedentedly close.

That allows for the freest possible trade in goods and services.

And that recognises that Brexit means that things must change but takes account of our unique starting point, as the basis for a new order.

And a new, exciting and enduring relationship between the United Kingdom and Germany as friends and allies into the future.

David Davis – 2017 Statement on Publication of EU Impact Assessments

Below is the text of the statement made by David Davis to the House of Commons on 7 November 2017.

Following the Opposition day debate motion on 1 November, the Government are making arrangements to respond to the motion which called on the Government to provide the Committee on Exiting the European Union with “impact assessments arising from” the sectoral analysis it has conducted with regards to the list of 58 sectors referred to in the answer of 26 June 2017 to Question 239.

As the Government have already made clear, it is not the case that 58 sectoral impact assessments exist. During the Opposition day debate the Parliamentary Under- Secretary of State told the House:

“there has been some misunderstanding about what this sectoral analysis actually is. It is not a series of 58 impact assessments.” —[Official Report,1 November 2017; Vol.630, c. 887.]

I made the same point during my appearance before the House of Lords EU Committee on 31 October and to the House at DEXEU oral questions on 2 November.

The sectoral analysis is a wide mix of qualitative and quantitative analyses, contained in a range of documents developed at different times since the referendum. It examines the nature of activity in the sectors, how trade is conducted with the EU currently in these sectors and, in many cases, considers the alternatives following the UK’s exit from the EU as well as considering existing precedents. The analysis ranges from the very high level overarching analysis to sometimes much more granular level analysis of certain product lines in specific sectors. The analysis in this area is constantly evolving and being updated based on our regular discussions with industry and our negotiations with the EU. It is not, nor has it ever been, a series of discrete impact assessments examining the quantitative impact of Brexit on these sectors.

Given the above, it will take the Department, working with other Departments, time to collate and bring together this information in a way that is accessible and informative for the Committee. The Government are committed to providing the information to the Committee as soon as is possible. I have made plain to the House authorities that we currently expect this to be no more than three weeks.

As Ministers made clear during the Opposition day debate on this motion, there are a number of reasons why the Government believe that it would not be in the public interest for elements of the analysis, at least, to be released into the public domain.​

The House of Commons has itself recognised that while Ministers should be as open as possible with Parliament, the Government also have an obligation to consider where it would not be in the public interest for material to be published.

Furthermore, it is important to recognise in some cases there may be confidential or commercially sensitive information in this analysis, and that in many cases this analysis has been developed to underpin advice to Ministers of the negotiation options in various scenarios. It is well understood—as was the case under successive administrations—that such advice to Ministers must remain private.

I have written to the Chair of the Committee on Exiting the European Union to set out the Government’s position as outlined above. I will also be meeting the Chair to discuss these issues further on 13 November.

David Davis – 2017 Speech at Conservative Party Conference

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, at the Conservative Party conference held in Manchester on 3 October 2017.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to be here in this great City, a city forever associated with free trade.

The historic buildings we see all around us, they were all built on the back of trade.

Today, I want to talk about how we can draw inspiration from that past, to carve out a new place for ourselves in the world, to rise to the new set of challenges that face us as new technologies threaten to change our world faster than ever.

When we met last year in the shadow of the Referendum emotions were still raw.

A year later, there is a new mood.

People want to look to the future.

They are fed up that people in Westminster seem to be stuck in an endless debate while the rest of the world wants to get a move on.

Over a year later I still get people coming up to me every day saying: ‘best of luck’ or ‘get a good deal for us Mr Davis’, and even, ‘Surely it can’t be that difficult?’

And that’s just the Cabinet.

Joking aside, every time I walk down the street, get on a train or walk through an airport….

People – not leave voters, or remain voters any more – just ordinary decent people, enthusiastically come up to me and wish me well on our shared project.

They know it’s not going to be easy or straightforward.

But the reasons that so many men and women voted to leave a year and a half ago are the same reasons that drive me every day right now:

We have been given a one-off time-limited extraordinary opportunity.

An opportunity to make sure that all the decisions about the future of this country are taken by our parliament, our courts, our institutions.

Decisions about how to spend our taxes – made here in Britain.

Decisions about who comes into the country – made here in Britain.

All our laws – made here in Britain.

We need to get Britain standing on its own two feet – facing outwards to the world.

And it’s that last point, looking forward to Britain’s Global role, which I want to talk to you about now.

One of the most powerful arguments I’ve heard for being outside the European Union was simple.

And it goes like this:

‘What kind of internationalism is it which says that this country must give priority to a Frenchman over an Indian, a German over an Australian, an Italian over a Malaysian.’

It couldn’t have been further from a Conservative Conference.

Having been said by Barbara Castle in 1975.

But what she meant, rings true today.

We are a global nation. We export more goods and services than Russia, Brazil and Indonesia combined

We have one of the greatest armed forces on the planet…

Who show their worth to the world in the Indian Ocean, in Iraq and the Baltics.

We train the best diplomats and put them to the test by sending them to work for the Foreign Secretary.

Now that we are leaving the European Union.

It allows us to be more international, not less.

It requires us to face the world, not looking away or glancing back, but with confidence and determination about the future we will build.

And ladies and gentlemen there is only one party which can deliver that and it is our Conservative Party.

Now, I would be happy to work with the Labour Party in the national interest, putting aside our differences for the good of the country.

But they have been playing a different game.

They’ve now published 11 separate Brexit plans and they are to paraphrase  Tolstoy, each unhappy in its own unique way.

For the customs union…then against it.

For the single market…then against it.

For freedom of movement…then against it.

Where we have introduced a Repeal Bill to take control of our laws and provide legal certainty…

They opposed it and offered no alternative.

Where we set out our negotiating positions and got the process started…

They opposed it and offered no alternative.

Where we have set out a plan for life outside the EU…with free trade and a strong economy…

They opposed it and offered no alternative.

They claim they respect the outcome of the Referendum…but oppose every step required to deliver it.

This is the most complex negotiation you could imagine.

Where one oversight, one error could cost the taxpayer billions of pounds…

And just last week I heard Keir Starmer say, ‘We mustn’t get bogged down in discussions about technicalities’

Well I’m afraid ignoring the details of Brexit just won’t cut it.

It’s like they’ve got a new slogan: ‘Labour…government without the hard bits’.

Well we are different in this party

We respect the people’s decision

And we will deliver the people’s decision

And as we do it, we will have to be clear eyed about what we want to achieve.

Because the future of our country is much more than just Brexit.

And it is something to be excited about whether you voted leave or remain.

As Liam has just told you the European Commission itself says that 90 per cent of the future global growth will come from outside Europe.

Having an independent trade policy will allow us to embrace those opportunities to the full.

And it gives us an opportunity to lead a race to the top.

To push up global standards.

To protect rights for workers.

To improve productivity and increase wages.

And lead the world as the champion of free trade.

Campaigning for the poverty-busting, affluence-spreading, wealth-creating impact that it can have.

Last week I was in Brussels.

Representing Britain in the fourth round of negotiations

We are making real steps forwards getting results on issues which affect people’s daily lives.

On the rights of British citizens in the Europe and European citizens here.

We will allow all 4 million of them to live their lives as they do now.

I am certain we can secure a deal on this soon.

On Northern Ireland and Ireland both the UK and the European Union are fully committed to protecting the peace process and ensuring that there is no return to the problems of the past.

And on the issue of the money

Yes, as the Prime Minister has promised, we will honour our commitments.

Because ours is a country that which plays by the rules and obeys the law.

But we will do our duty for the British taxpayer, and challenge these claims line by line.

We must never lose sight of the bigger picture, and the prize on offer at the end of the process.

And it is only in this context, that we can finally settle this issue.

Closer to home, we are getting Britain ready for Brexit step-by-step.

The first step is the Repeal Bill.

A critical piece of legislation, which ends the supremacy of EU law.

It is essential to a smooth and orderly exit.

And it helps provide the clarity which citizens and businesses have been clamouring for.

Now where MPs set out to improve this legislation, we will welcome their contribution…

But be in no doubt: this Bill is essential and we will not allow it to be wrecked.

On the negotiating front, we are aiming for a good deal.

And that is what we expect to achieve.

However, if the outcome of the negotiation falls short of the deal that Britain needs we will be ready for the alternative.

That is what a responsible Government does. Anything else would be a dereliction of duty.

So there is a determined exercise underway in Whitehall devoted to contingency arrangements so that we are ready for any outcome.

Not because it is what we seek, but because it needs to be done.

And while much of our task lies ahead, when I look at what we’ve achieved so far it should give us cause for optimism.

That we will strike that deal, and create that shared future.

Because Brexit is not a rejection of Europe, or indeed the values and ideals that are shared across our continent.

It is a decision by the British people to leave the political project.

A project which may be right for the other nations who remain there by the consent of their people.

But one that is no longer right for us.

They approach it through the prism of their own history – one that, in the past, was all too often determined by dictatorship and domination, invasion and occupation.

For them Europe symbolises democracy, liberty, modernity, the rule of law.

Our own island story follows a different path.

We had been the leading liberal democracy for over a century before we joined the common market.

And when we decided to leave the European Union we voted, not against the political project itself, but against Britain’s involvement in it.

Europe’s history will continue, and so will ours, and we will remain good friends and allies.

And for those who claim that we are not good Europeans.

Well, did you know that we spend one and half times as much on defence as the European average? That is how we stationed troops on Europe’s border in Estonia and in Poland.

I call that being a good European.

We spend over twice the European average helping the poorest people on the planet.

Including in Africa where for many, British aid acts as a ladder for people to climb out of the hands of people smugglers.

I call that being a good European.

And we are the first to help our neighbours in the fight against terror…as both our Belgian and our French colleagues found last year.

I call that being a good European.

This is more than warm words.

None of it comes for free.

If we spent only the European average on defence, on international development, on intelligence, we would spend £22 billion less a year.

And that isn’t going away. Because we choose to be good global citizens.

That’s what we mean when we say we are leaving the EU, but not leaving Europe or our shared values.

So this is our plan, and I’m incredibly lucky to have been given the team to deliver it.

The intelligence, dedication and sheer hard work of Robin Walker, Steve Baker and our Minister in the Lords Joyce Anelay.

Our excellent PPSs, Gareth Johnson and Jeremy Quinn.

And the support of our hard-working public-spirited and patriotic civil servants in Whitehall.

And on a personal point can I put on record my thanks for my two former Ministers David Jones and George Bridges.

I’d like you to join me in thanking them all.

So together, as a team, we will work to deliver the national interest.

Now if there’s one thing I don’t need to do today, it’s to remind you to believe in our country.

But if I have one message for you, it is to keep your eyes on the prize.

You will have read in the newspapers lurid accounts of the negotiations with the predictions of break down and crisis.

Offensive, indeed insulting, briefing to the newspapers, which I take as a compliment.

Of course sometimes the exchanges are tough, but that is to be expected.

The job the Prime Minister has entrusted to me is to keep a calm eye on our goal and not be diverted.

Because the prizes for success are enormous. As are the consequences of failure.

I didn’t campaign so hard in the referendum for the pleasure of negotiating with the European Commission

I did it because the future of this country is great.

And this Government is facing up to it.

Success will not be automatic, we will have to work hard for it.

We will encourage the things that we Conservatives believe in:

Hard work, Enterprise, risk-taking

Innovation, competition, self-reliance.

When we leave the EU, our successes, and yes, our failures, will be ours and ours alone.

But we are the country of William Shakespeare and Jane Austen, of Alexander Fleming and James Dyson. A super power in science, with the fairest legal system in the world.

Britain is where you come if you want to study artificial intelligence or life sciences.

And being who we are and drawing on our strengths, we can be confident that our successes will dwarf our failures.

So let us turn to face the future.

Delivering on the referendum.

Setting out a new relationship with Europe.

Pushing forward, to grasp the opportunities that lie ahead.

Looking forward, to the future we forge together.

Putting our country on the path to greatness once again.

David Davis – 2017 Statement on Brexit Negotiations

Below is the text of the statement made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Departing the European Union, in the House of Commons on 5 September 2017.

Mr Speaker, I will now update the House on the two rounds of negotiations with the EU which took place in July and August.

While at times these negotiations have been tough, it is clear that we have made concrete progress on many important issues.

I would like thank all our officials who have been working hard both at home, as well as out in Brussels, to make this happen.

Colleagues will have received my letter following the July negotiating round dated 9 August. I set out the dynamics of that round in some detail.

These rounds were not at this stage about establishing jointly agreed legal text. They were about reaching a detailed understanding of each other’s position, understanding where there might be room for compromise and beginning to drill down into technical detail on a number of issues.

During both rounds discussions took place on all four areas including the specific issues relating to the rights of citizens on both sides, Northern Ireland and Ireland, the question of a financial settlement and a number of technical separation issues.

I will speak briefly about each in turn.

Citizens’ rights

Making progress on citizens’ rights has been an area of focus for both negotiation rounds and we took significant steps forward in both July and August.

We have published a joint technical paper which sets out our respective positions in more detail, updated following the August round. This underlines both the significant alignment between our positions and also provides clarity on areas where we have not as yet reached agreement.

In July we achieved a high degree of convergence on:

  • The scope of our proposals on residence and social security;
  • The eligibility criteria for those who will benefit from residence rights under the scope of the withdrawal agreement;
  • A shared commitment to make the citizens’ rights application process as efficient and streamlined as possible.

In August we agreed:

  • To protect the rights of frontier workers;
  • To cover future social security contributions for those citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement;
  • To maintain the right of British citizens in the EU27 to set up and manage a business within their Member State of residence, and visa versa; and
  • That we should at least protect existing healthcare rights and arrangements for EU27 citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU. These are the European Health Insurance or ‘EHIC’ arrangements.

These areas of agreement are good news. They may sound technical but they matter enormously to individuals.

The agreement on health care rights, for example, will mean that British pensioners living in the EU will continue to have their health care arrangements protected, both where they live and when they travel to another Member State, where they will still be able to use an EHIC card.

On mutual recognition of qualifications, we have made progress in protecting the recognition of qualifications for British citizens resident in the EU27 and EU27 citizens resident in the UK. In fact, each one of these areas of agreement is reciprocal, they will work for Brits in the EU and the EU27 in the UK.

These areas of agreement help provide certainty and clarity for EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27. They will make a tangible difference to these people’s lives. I hope everyone recognises the importance of that.

The outcomes of these discussions demonstrate that we have delivered on our commitment to put citizens first and to give them as much certainty as early as possible in this process.

Of course, there remain areas of difference which we continue to work on.

For example, we will need to have further discussions on the specified cut-off date, future family reunion and the broader issue of compliance on enforcement. Progress on these areas will require flexibility and pragmatism from both sides.

During the Summer negotiating rounds a number of issues emerged in the EU offer that will need further consideration.

For example, the EU does not plan to maintain the existing voting rights for UK nationals living in the EU. We have made it clear that we will protect the rights of EU nationals living in the UK to stand and vote in municipal elections.

Similarly, the EU proposals would not allow UK citizens currently resident in the EU to retain their rights if they move within the EU.

Even in areas where there has been progress, more is needed. While the EU has agreed to recognise the qualifications of UK citizens resident in the EU, and vice versa, we believe this should go much further.

This recognition must extend to students who are currently studying for a qualification, it must apply to onward movement by UK citizens in the EU and it should extend more broadly to protect the livelihoods of thousands of people which depend on qualifications which will be gained before we exit the EU.

In these areas the EU’s proposals fall short of ensuring UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK can continue to live their lives broadly as they do now.

Separation issues

On separation issues, a very technical area, we have established a number of sub-groups. They made progress in a number of specific areas, and drew on papers the UK published ahead of both rounds.

I am pleased to say that we are close to agreement on our approach to post-exit privileges and immunities – on which we have published a position paper – which will benefit both the UK and EU to maintain after we leave.

We have agreed on our mutual approach to confidentiality requirements on shared information post-exit.

With respect to nuclear materials and safeguards, we held discussions on the need to resolve issues around the ownership of special fissile material and the responsibility for radioactive waste and spent fuel held both here and there.

We reiterated a strong mutual interest in ensuring that the UK and Euratom Community continue to work closely together in the future as part of comprehensive new partnership.

With respect to legal cases pending before the Court of Justice, the ECJ, the parties discussed and made progress on the cut-off points for cases being defined as ‘pending’. There was also progress in discussions concerning the UK’s role before the Court whilst these pending cases are being heard.

With respect to judicial cooperation in civil and commercial matters, and ongoing judicial cooperation in criminal matters, we made good progress on the principles of approach and the joint aim of providing legal certainty and avoiding unnecessary disruption to courts, businesses and families.

With respect to goods on the market, both parties reiterated the importance of providing legal certainty to businesses and consumers across the EU and UK at the point of departure.

In this area, in particular, we emphasised that the broader principles outlined in the UK’s position paper seek to minimise the type of uncertainty and disruption for business which we are all working to avoid.

We remain committed to making as much progress as possible on those issues which are solely related to our withdrawal, but our discussions this week have exposed yet again that the UK’s approach is substantially more flexible and pragmatic than that of the EU as it avoids unnecessary disruption for British business and consumers.

I have urged the EU to be more imaginative and flexible in their approach to withdrawal on this point.

Ireland/Northern Ireland

On Northern Ireland and Ireland, I’m pleased to report there has been significant, concrete progress in this vital area. The negotiation Coordinators explored a number of issues, including both the Belfast or Good Friday Agreement and the Common Travel Area. In August, the group also had detailed discussions on the basis of the UK position paper.

As both Michel Barnier and I said at last week’s press conference, there is a high degree of convergence on those key issues, and we agreed to work up shared principles on the Common Travel Area.

We also agreed to carry out further technical work on cross-border co-operation under the Belfast Agreement.

Of course, as I have said all along, the key issues in relation to cross-border economic co-operation and energy will need to form an integral part of discussions on the UK’s future relationship with the EU.

Financial settlement

Finally on the financial settlement.

We have been clear that the UK and the EU will have financial obligations to each other that will survive our exit from the EU.

In July the Commission set out the European Union position. We have a duty to our taxpayers to interrogate that position rigorously. That is what we did, line by line.

At the August round we set out our analysis of the EU’s position. We also had in-depth discussions on the European Investment Bank and other off-budget issues.

It is clear that the two sides have very different legal stances. But as we said in the Article 50 letter, the settlement should be in accordance with law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.

Michel Barnier and I agreed that we do not anticipate making incremental progress on the final shape of a financial deal in every round.

Generally we should not underestimate the usefulness of the process so far. But it is also clear that there are still significant differences to be bridged in this sector.

Governance and dispute resolution

Initial discussions were also held on governance and dispute resolution.

These provided an opportunity to build a better, shared understanding of the need for a reliable means of enforcing the Withdrawal Agreement and resolving any disputes that might arise under it.

The Future Partnership

Alongside the negotiations, we have also published a number of papers which set out our thinking regarding our future special partnership with the EU.

These future partnership papers are different from our papers that set out our position for the negotiations under our withdrawal agreement.

Our future partnership papers are part of a concerted effort to pragmatically drive the progress we all want to see.

All along, we have argued that talks around our withdrawal cannot be treated in isolation from the future partnership that we want.

We can only resolve some of these issues with an eye on how the new partnership will work in the future.

For example, on Northern Ireland it would be helpful to our shared objectives on avoiding a hard border to be able to begin discussions on how future customs arrangements will work.

Furthermore, if we agree the comprehensive free trade agreement we are seeking as part of our future partnership, solutions in Northern Ireland are of course then easier to deliver.

A second example is on financial matters.

As I have said, the days of making vast yearly contributions to the EU budget will end when we leave.

But there may be programmes that the UK wants to consider participating in as part of the new partnership that we seek.

Naturally we need to work out which of those we want to pursue. We need to discuss them as part of talks both on our withdrawal from the EU and our future as their long-standing friend and closest neighbour.

A third example is on wider separation issues.

While we are happy to negotiate and make progress on the separation issues, it is our long-term aim that ultimately many of these arrangements will not be necessary.

With the clock ticking Mr Barnier, it would not be in either of our interests to run aspects of the negotiations twice.

Last week, as we turned our heads to the next round of talks, my message to the Commission was: Let us continue to work together constructively to put people above process.

To that end my team will publish further papers in the coming weeks – continuing to set out our ambition for these negotiations, and a new deep and special partnership the UK wants to build with the EU.

Ultimately, businesses and citizens on both sides want us to move swiftly on to discussing the future partnership, and we want that to happen after the European Council in October if possible.

As colleagues know, at the start of these negotiations, both sides agreed that the aim was to make progress on four key areas: citizens’ rights, the financial settlement, Northern Ireland and Ireland, and broader separation issues.

We have been doing just that.

No one has ever pretended this will be simple or easy. I have always said this negotiation will be tough, complex and, at times, confrontational.

So it has proved.

But we must not lose sight of our overarching aim — to build a deep and special new partnership with our closest neighbours and allies, whilst also building a truly global Britain that can forge new relationships with the fastest growing economies around the world.

David Davis – 2017 Statement Following Third Round of Brexit Negotiations

Below is the text of the statement made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Leaving the European Union, in Brussels on 31 August 2017.

Thank you Michel.

And can I start by adding my compliments to both teams, to yours. They’ve both worked incredibly hard this week. It’s been as ever with an important negotiation quite a high-stress week, in terms of their work. So they deserve our compliments and our thanks.

This week we have had long and detailed discussions across multiple areas and I think it is fair to say, that we have seen some concrete progress. I mean, Michel referred to one, but I think there’s been more than that.

However, as I said at the very start of this week, it is only through flexibility and imagination that we’ll achieve a deal that truly works for both sides.

In some areas we have found this from the Commission’s side, which I welcome, but there remains some way to go.

Talks this week have once again focussed on citizens’ rights, on financial matters, on Northern Ireland and Ireland, and on issues relating to our separation. I’m pleased to say we have engaged in detail on all of those areas.

Now, when I met Michel here on Monday to open this third round of negotiations I set out the need for us to drive forward the technical discussions.

I wanted us to establish the areas where we agree, and work through the areas where we disagree, to ensure that we make further progress on a whole range of issues.

I think we’ve delivered that.

The UK’s approach has been informed by a series of detailed papers – on customs; on Northern Ireland; on goods; on civil judicial cooperation; on data; on enforcement and dispute resolution; and on technical matters regarding our separation, such as ongoing confidentiality obligations.

These papers represent the hard work and detailed thinking that has been going on behind the scenes across Whitehall over the past twelve months.

They offer pragmatic and innovative solutions to issues related to our withdrawal and the future deep and special partnership that we want with the European Union. They do not aim to dictate a single approach, but rather considered options for us to work on.

As I have said all along, issues around our withdrawal and our future relationship are inextricably linked.

Our approach of setting out positions on them both is designed to progress the current negotiations as swiftly as possible.

And I note on what Michel just said on that, and I’ll come back to that in a moment.

And that approach is already bearing fruit.

But beyond the debates around process, and technicalities, at the heart of this process must be a desire to deliver the best outcome for the people and the businesses of the European Union and the United Kingdom.

Citizens Rights

The most obvious area for that is on citizens’ rights which remain a top priority.

This week we have discussed a wide range of issues which will have a significant impact on people’s lives. In particular, both sides have agreed:

To protect the rights of frontier workers.

To cover future social security contributions for those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

That we should at least protect existing healthcare rights and arrangements for EU27 citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU. The EHIC arrangements.

That is good news for example, for British pensioners in the EU: it means that they will continue to have their health care arrangements protected both where they live and – when they travel to another Member State – to be able to use an EHIC card.

On economic rights, we have secured the right of British citizens in the EU27 to set up and manage a business within their Member State of residence, and of course visa versa.

On mutual recognition of qualifications, we have made progress in protecting the recognition of qualifications for British citizens resident in the EU27 and EU27 citizens in the UK.

For every one of these, of course, in fact every single thing I’ve said, all of these are reciprocal, they work for Brits in the EU and the EU27 in the UK.

To that end, we will shortly be publishing a comparison of the UK-EU-positions.

And we have had further discussions on the governance of the citizens’ rights agreement – and the wider withdrawal agreement. We have shown a willingness to discuss creative solutions in this area and now is the time for the Commission to match it.

Financial Settlement

On the financial settlement – the central point, I think, of Michel’s comments – the Commission has set out its position and we have a duty to our taxpayers to interrogate it rigorously.

At this round we presented our legal analyses. On on-budget issues, on off-budget issues and on the EIB (the European Investment Bank).

It is fair to say, across the piece, we have a very different legal stance. But as we said in the Article 50 letter, the settlement should be in accordance with law and in the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU, and I repeat the phrase, in accordance with the law and the spirit of the UK’s continuing partnership with the EU.

Michel and I agreed in the last round, it is clear we won’t be making incremental progress on the final shape of a deal on this in every round, and I think this round demonstrates that.

I think we have succeeded in building mutual understanding, but it is also clear that there are still significant differences to be bridged.

Ireland

On Ireland and Northern Ireland, Michel gave credit to this, our coordinators have met again to build on discussions in July.

We had a good discussion on maintaining the Common Travel Area and on safeguarding the Good Friday Agreement, on the basis of the UK paper.

We think there is a high degree of convergence on these key issues, and we agreed to work up shared principles on the Common Travel Area.

We also agreed to carry out further joint technical work on cross-border co-operation under the Good Friday Agreement.

Separation Issues

On Separation Issues, we have had good discussions on the detail of papers the UK published ahead of the round.

We have reached almost complete agreement on our approach to post-exit privileges and immunities which benefits both the UK and EU to maintain after we leave, and on our mutual approach to confidentiality requirements on shared information post-exit.

On Euratom and other institutional issues we have built upon discussions in July and are well placed to make even more progress in the next round.

We remain committed to making as much progress as possible on those issues that are solely related to our withdrawal, but our discussions this week have exposed yet again that the UK’s approach is substantially more flexible and pragmatic than that of the EU as it avoids unnecessary disruption for businesses and consumers.

We have proposed pragmatic solutions to prevent this disruption and we urge the EU to be more imaginative and flexible in their approach to withdrawal on this point.

However, I remain of the view that on this as with many areas there is an unavoidable overlap between withdrawal and the future and they cannot be neatly compartmentalised.

Conclusion

To conclude the third round of talks have been productive and are an important stepping stone and key building block for discussions to come.

We are peeling away the layers, one by one, working through many issues at speed, and moving towards the core of these important matters.

We have locked in points of agreement and unpicked areas of divergence.

Being dynamic is integral to driving forward these talks at pace and to providing the best outcomes for people and businesses – not just in the UK, but in the EU as well.

Michel referred to the issue of time, the 29th of March 2019 midnight. I’ve said from the beginning of this process, some parts will be turbulent, hard, difficult, and of course, we will see that because there are differences of view that have to be resolved.

But both sides, and this was very apparent this week, both teams aim to be constructive, aim to get an outcome which is to the benefit both of the European Union and of the United Kingdom. That’s the aim of both teams.

So my message to Michel and his team as we turn our heads to the next round of talks is: Let’s continue to work together constructively to put people above process.

As discussions in June, July and again this week have shown – our separation from the European Union and our future relationship is inextricably linked. We can only resolve some of these issues with an eye on how the new partnership between us will work in the future.

This is not about skipping ahead or trying to reopen previous discussions, it is about pragmatically driving the progress we all want to see.

To that end my team will publish further papers in the coming weeks – continuing to set out our ambition for these negotiations, and the new deep and special partnership the UK wants to build with the EU.

I look forward to the next round of talks.

Thank you.

David Davis – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons

Below is the text of the maiden speech made by David Davis, the then Conservative MP for Boothferry, in the House of Commons on 5 November 1987.

I am grateful to you, Mr. Speaker, for calling me to make my maiden speech so early in the debate. I am also grateful for the compliments on my speech, however premature.

I pray the indulgence of the House to speak briefly about my constituency and to pay proper tribute to my predecessor in Boothferry. The constituency of Boothferry encompasses the Yorkshire wolds and extends down to the vale of York, across the Ouse and Humber to include the Isle of Axholme. It is a beautiful rural area and can claim to be one of the cradles of English individualism. Many of its people fought for their beliefs and for other people’s rights. Some died. Robert Aske, who led the pilgrimage of Grace, was hanged in chains in York castle. Others, such as William Wilberforce and John Wesley, have, by the force of their character, and their commitment to their ideas, changed the world in such a way that history will never forget them.

Today, individualism takes the form of enterprise and initiative on the part of the people I represent. That is why Yorkshire and Humberside has many more small businesses, private enterprise and self-employed people than most other areas of Britain.

My predecessor in Boothferry was Sir Paul Bryan. When Sir Paul entered the House as the Member for Howden 32 years ago, he was already distinguished by his war record. He was a holder of the Military Cross and Distinguished Service Order. I think that he was the last Member of the House to hold both those decorations. He was clearly a man of considerable courage and leadership Courage has been described as the quality of exhibiting grace under pressure. Sir Paul had the quality of exhibiting grace in all circumstances. He was greatly loved in my constituency for his dignified leadership, quiet compassion and calm wisdom. If I can do as much for my constituency and the House as Sir Paul did, I shall be justifiably proud.

Sir Paul had one other characteristic when he came to the House which helped him to stand out from the crowd. He had an entry in the “Guinness Book of Records”. He was and is a keen golfer and he achieved the feat of getting two holes in one, as some hon. Members will know. He tells the story of returning from that round, buying the traditional round of drinks in the club house and telling the barmaid about the fact that he had scored two holes in one. She asked him which holes he had scored them on and he said that it was the ninth and twelfth. “But, Mr. Bryan,” she said, “those are the two shortest holes in the club.” Such wry scepticism is often seen on the Opposition Benches today.

My right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer has scored hat trick after hat trick—in the Autumn Statement last year, the Budget this year and the Autumn Statement this year—when we had a higher growth record than any other Western nation, a faster fall in unemployment than any other country, and many other characteristics in our financial situation which stood out as being models for the rest of the world. However, the comments of the right hon. and learned Member for Monklands, East (Mr. Smith) will not be the real test of the Government’s policy. The real test of the Government’s policy and our economy will be how it withstands the global adversity that we are seeing today.

I want to explore how that test will come about. I am not just talking about a slump or a potential slump. If we have a slump, everybody understands what that means as a test for our economy. If we avoid a slump, that, too, will be a test for our economy.

Let us examine what has been said about what is needed to avoid a slump. My right hon. and learned Friend the Member for Richmond, Yorks (Mr. Brittan) basically described five different points. Two of them are American. There is obviously the need to cut the budget deficit and the Americans must abandon protectionism. Three other things have to be done. First, we must maintain the liquidity of the financial markets, and that has already been done. Secondly, we probably have to see some fiscal relaxation in Germany and Japan. Thirdly, we must see a modification of the Louvre accord to allow the dollar to devalue to a proper level against the deutschmark. If that goes ahead and is successful in preventing a global slump, there will be a continuation of growth in global demand—it will not be as high as in recent years but it will continue. However, the structure of that global demand will change.

Labour Members like to talk about the real economy, but what will happen in real terms? The American market will suffer deflationary effects. The policy change and the consumption effects of the Wall street crash will have deflationary effects. American industry and employment will be protected from that, to some extent, by the dollar-deutschmark parity change. British industry will not be protected. Some £12 billion worth of exports will be going into the dollar area markets. We will have a smaller, more difficult market for our high-tech and high-value items—typically the items that we sell to the United States—and we will face tougher competition from American producers with that dollar advantage.

We will have to look elsewhere for outlets. If the global economy is growing, by definition there will be expansion elsewhere. When we look elsewhere we will run head on into Japanese competition and Japanese products that have been displaced from the United States market. We will also face German and American competition, which will be tougher because of that dollar parity change. We will have to battle hard for our market share. That market will not necessarily be in the same products—it certainly will not be in the same place—and we will have to fight for every percentage point of share.

How will Britain’s industry cope? The transformation of British industry in the past eight years will ensure that we will win enough battles to maintain our growth rate. How would we have done eight or ten years ago if we had taken on the Japanese or tried to sell Jaguars to Germany? That is the acid test of Government policy. That is the test that will apply if the global market does not crash. The previous Labour Government would have failed that test. Their policies would not have coped because of the lack of competitiveness that they brought about in British industry.

That is the successful scenario, but in the unsuccessful scenario the other side of the Government’s balance sheet takes effect. Clearly competition and competitiveness still matter. However, the Government’s ability to inject more demand into the economy—this is a common sense approach, not a Keynesian one—is a function of its creditworthiness. Any company chairman will know that creditworthiness dictates how one copes. The United States’ problem is that it has run out of creditworthiness.

The Government’s balance sheet is as good as it has ever been, but it is not the only important balance sheet. Over the past few years it has become fashionable to criticise the bull market. However, one of its side effects is that British industry has been able to obtain lower borrowing levels, better equity funding and a lower risk base than ever before. Thus, it is better equipped to deal with stronger competition and higher margins.

Our policies stand up, on any scenario, in comparison with anybody else’s. We have the flexibility to move with the world markets. We have the capacity to cope with a drop in world demand. In the final analysis, whatever the outcome, the British economy has the equipment to harness the wind or weather the storm.

David Davis – 2017 Statement on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, in the House of Commons on 30 March 2017.

With permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement about today’s publication of a White Paper on the great repeal Bill.

Yesterday, we took the historic step of notifying the European Council of the Government’s decision to invoke article 50; the United Kingdom is leaving the European Union. That notification marks the beginning of our two-year negotiation period with the EU, and it reflects the result of last year’s instruction from the people of the United Kingdom. As the Prime Minister said yesterday, it is our fierce determination to get the right deal for every single person. Now is the time to come together to ensure that the UK as a whole is prepared for the challenges and opportunities presented by our exit from the EU.

We have been clear that we want a smooth and orderly exit, and the great repeal Bill is integral to that approach. It will provide clarity and certainty for businesses, workers and consumers across the United Kingdom on the day we leave the EU. It will mean that as we exit the EU and seek a new, deep and special partnership with the European Union, we will be doing so from a position where we have the same standards and rules. But it will also ensure that we deliver on our promise to end the supremacy of European Union law in the UK as we exit. Our laws will then be made in London, Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast, and interpreted by judges not in Luxembourg, but across the United Kingdom. Some have been concerned that Parliament will not play enough of a role in shaping the future of the country once we have left the European Union. Today’s White Paper shows just how wrong that is. This publication makes it clear that there will be a series of Bills to debate and vote on, both before and after we leave, as well as many statutory instruments to consider.

Let me turn to the content of the White Paper. The paper we have published today sets out the three principal elements of the great repeal Bill. First, we will repeal the European Communities Act 1972 and return power to the United Kingdom. Secondly, the Bill will convert EU law into United Kingdom law, allowing businesses to continue operating knowing that the rules have not changed overnight, and providing fairness to individuals, whose rights and obligations will not be subject to sudden change. Thirdly, the Bill will create the necessary powers to correct the laws that do not operate appropriately once we have left the EU, so that our legal system continues to function correctly outside the European Union. I will address each of these elements in turn before coming to the important issue of the interaction of the Bill with the devolution settlements.

Let me begin with the European Communities Act 1972. Repealing the ECA on the day we leave the EU enables the return to this Parliament of the sovereignty we ceded in 1972 and ends the supremacy of EU law in this country. It is entirely necessary in order to deliver on the result of the referendum. But repealing the ECA alone is not enough. A simple repeal of the ECA would leave holes in our statute book. The EU regulations that apply directly in the UK would no longer have any ​effect, and many of the domestic regulations we have made to implement our EU obligations would fall away. Therefore, to provide the maximum possible legal certainty, the great repeal Bill will convert EU law into domestic law on the day we leave the European Union. This means, for example, that the workers’ rights, environmental protection and consumer rights that are enjoyed under EU law in the UK will continue to be available in UK law after we have left the European Union. Once EU law has been converted into domestic law, Parliament will be able to pass legislation to amend, repeal or improve any piece of European Union law it chooses—as will the devolved legislatures, where they have power to do so.

However, further steps will be needed to provide a smooth and orderly exit. This is because a large number of laws—both existing domestic laws and those we convert into UK law—will not work properly if we leave the EU without taking further action. Some laws, for example, grant functions to an EU institution with which the UK will no longer have a relationship. To overcome this, the great repeal Bill will provide a power to correct the statute book, where necessary, to resolve the problems which will occur as a consequence of leaving the European Union. This will be done using secondary legislation, the flexibility of which will make sure we have put in place the necessary corrections before the day we leave the European Union. I can confirm that this power will be time-limited, and Parliament will need to be satisfied that the procedures in the Bill for making and approving the secondary legislation are appropriate.

Given the scale of the changes that will be necessary and the finite amount of time available to make them, there is a balance to be struck between the importance of scrutiny and correcting the statute book in time. As the Lords Constitution Committee recently put it:

“The challenge that Parliament will face is in balancing the need for speed, and thus for Governmental discretion, with the need for proper parliamentary control of the content of the UK’s statute book.”

Parliament of course can, and does, regularly debate and vote on secondary legislation; we are not considering some form of governmental Executive orders, but using a legislative process of long standing. I hope that today’s White Paper and this statement can be the start of a discussion between Parliament and Government about how best to achieve this balance. Similar corrections will be needed to the statute books of the three devolved Administrations, and so we propose that the Bill will also give Ministers in the devolved Administrations a power to amend devolved legislation to correct their law in line with the way that UK ministers will be able to correct UK law.

Let me turn to the European Court of Justice and its case law. I can confirm that the great repeal Bill will provide no future role for the European Court in the interpretation of our laws, and the Bill will not oblige our courts to consider cases decided by the European Court of Justice after we have left. However, for as long as EU-derived law remains on the UK statute book, it is essential that there is a common understanding of what that law means. The Government believe that this is best achieved by providing for continuity in how that law is interpreted before and after exit day. To maximise certainty, therefore, the Bill will provide that any question ​as to the meaning of EU law that has been converted into UK law will be determined in the UK courts by reference to the European Court of Justice’s case law as it exists on the day we leave the European Union. Any other starting point would be to change the law and create unnecessary uncertainty.

This approach maximises legal certainty at the point of departure, but our intention is not to fossilise the past decisions of the European Court of Justice. As such, we propose that the Bill will provide that European Court case law be given the same status in our courts as decisions of our own Supreme Court. The Supreme Court does not frequently depart from its own decisions, but it does so from time to time. We would expect the Supreme Court to take a similar, sparing approach to departing from European Court of Justice case law, but we believe it is right that it should have the power to do so. Of course Parliament will be free to change the law, and therefore overturn case law, where it decides it is right to do so.

Today’s White Paper also sets out the great repeal Bill’s approach to the charter of fundamental rights. Let me explain our approach. The charter of fundamental rights applies to member states only when they act within the scope of European Union law. That means that its relevance is removed by our withdrawal from the European Union. The Government have been clear that in leaving the EU, the UK’s leading role in protecting and advancing human rights will not change. The fact that the charter will fall away will not mean that the protection of rights in the UK will suffer as a result. The charter of fundamental rights was not designed to create new rights, but rather to catalogue rights already recognised as general principles in EU law. That was recognised by the Labour Government who brought it in, with a protocol attached to it, in 2007. Where cases have been decided by reference to those rights, that case law will continue to be used to interpret the underlying rights that will be preserved.

I would now like to turn to devolution. The United Kingdom’s domestic constitutional arrangements have evolved since the UK joined the European Economic Community in 1973. The current devolution settlements were agreed after the UK joined and reflect that context. In areas where the devolved Administrations and legislatures have competence, such as agriculture, the environment and some areas of transport, that competence is exercised within the constraints set by European Union law. The existence of common EU frameworks had the effect of providing a common UK framework in many areas, safeguarding the functioning of the UK internal market.

As powers return from the EU, we have an opportunity to determine the level best placed to take decisions on those issues, ensuring that power sits closer to the people of the United Kingdom than ever before. It is the expectation of the Government that the outcome of that process will be a significant increase in the decision-making power of each devolved Administration. However, we must also ensure that, as we leave the EU, no new barriers to living and doing business within our own Union are created. In some areas, that will require common UK frameworks. Decisions will be required about where a common framework is needed and, if it is, how it might be established. The devolved Administrations ​also acknowledge the importance of common UK frameworks. We will work closely with the devolved Administrations to deliver an approach that works for the whole of the United Kingdom and reflects the needs and individual circumstances of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Let me conclude by stressing the importance of the great repeal Bill. It will help to ensure certainty and stability across the board. It is vital to ensuring a smooth and orderly exit; it will stand us in good stead for the negotiations over our future relationship with the EU; and it will deliver greater control over our laws to this Parliament and, wherever appropriate, the devolved Administrations. Those steps are crucial to implementing the result of the referendum in the national interest. I hope that all sides will recognise that and work with us to achieve those aims. I commend this statement to the House.

David Davis – 2016 Speech on Iraq Inquiry Report

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis in the House of Commons on 14 April 2016.

I beg to move,

That this House calls on the Government to conclude the National Security checking of the Iraq Inquiry report as soon as possible in order to allow publication of that report as soon as possible after 18 April 2016, and no later than two weeks after that date, in line with the undertaking on time taken for such checking by the Prime Minister in his letter to Sir John Chilcot of 29 October 2015.

As an aside, Mr Speaker, I never cease to be impressed by your short-term memory.

The second Iraq war was started to liberate the Iraqi people. Instead, it shattered their country. It was intended to stabilise the middle east. Instead, it destabilised the middle east. It was intended to remove a threat of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist. Instead, it exacerbated and massively increased a threat of terrorism that does exist. It was supposedly fought in defence of our values, but it has led to the erosion of civil liberties at home and the use of torture abroad. Because we were misled on the matter, Parliament voted for the war by 412 to 149. So there were very good reasons for setting up the inquiry in the first place.

The war led to the deaths of 4,800 allied soldiers, 179 of them British. The lowest estimate of Iraqi civilian casualties was 134,000, but plausible estimates put the number up to four times higher. The war immediately created 3.4 million refugees, and half of them fled the country. It cost the British taxpayer £9.6 billion, and it cost the American taxpayer $1,100 billion. It has done untold damage to the reputation of the west throughout the middle east and, indeed, among Muslim populations at home and abroad. Initiated to protect the west from terrorism, it has, in fact, destroyed the integrity of the Iraqi state and triggered a persistent civil war that has created the conditions for perhaps the worst terrorist threat yet to the west: ISIL or ISIS. The war has done huge harm to the self-confidence and unity of the west, in effect neutering our foreign policy. The war was, with hindsight, the greatest foreign policy failure of this generation, and I say that as someone who was misled into voting for it.

It has been more than six and a half years since Gordon Brown launched the Iraq inquiry and more than five years since it heard its last evidence. It has been more than a year since this House, in a similar debate, called for the Government to publish the Iraq inquiry report as soon as possible, and yet that report has still not been published. It is no surprise that one of the most pre-eminent politicians of our era, the highly respected and very civilised ex-Foreign Secretary, Douglas Hurd, branded the delays a scandal. He is right. They are a disgrace.

In 2009, the then Leader of the Opposition, who is now Prime Minister, was scornful about the suggestion that the report would not be published before the 2010 election. In 2009, Sir John Chilcot told families that he would complete the inquiry in a year if he could, but that it would definitely not take more than two years. In fact, the evidence taking did not conclude until 2 February 2011. Nevertheless, at that time—more than five years ago—Sir John Chilcot said:

“It is going to take some months to deliver the report itself.”

It has been 62 months and counting.

Then the inquiry started the classification process. Under the inquiry protocols, there are nine different categories of reason for turning down the classification—for preventing Sir John not from seeing the information, but from publishing it. What the inquiry can publish is determined by a series of protocols that have criteria so broad that a veto on application can be applied virtually at Whitehall’s discretion.

Compare that with the Scott inquiry into the Iraqi super-gun affair. It also covered issues of incredible sensitivity in terms of national security, international relations, intelligence agency involvement, judicial propriety and ministerial decision making—the whole gamut. Sir Richard Scott was allowed to decide himself what he would release into the public domain, unfettered by Whitehall, so that whole tranche of time—that couple of years—would have been unnecessary. By contrast, Sir John Chilcot, a former permanent secretary at the Northern Ireland Office who chaired an incredibly sensitive inquiry into intercept—some Members of the House may remember that—and who is considered a responsible keeper of the Government’s secrets, is tied up in protocols subject to the whim of Whitehall.

There have been long negotiations between the inquiry and Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Cabinet Secretary, and his predecessors over the disclosure of some material, most notably correspondence between ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair and George W. Bush. There is no point whatsoever in the inquiry if it cannot publish the documents that show how the decision to go to war was arrived at. That is, after all, the point of half the inquiry. Chilcot wrote in a letter to the Cabinet Secretary:

“The question when and how the prime minister made commitments to the US about the UK’s involvement in military action in Iraq and subsequent decisions on the UK’s continuing involvement, is central to its considerations”.

The negotiations between Chilcot and Jeremy Heywood concluded only in May 2014, when it was announced that an agreement had been reached. The process was clearly frustrating for Sir John. He queried why it was that

“individuals may disclose privileged information (without sanction) whilst a committee of privy counsellors established by a former prime minister to review the issues, cannot”.

He was of course referring to Alastair Campbell and Jonathan Powell’s respective diaries, which quoted such information, again without Whitehall veto.

Then came the excruciatingly long process of Maxwellisation. This is meant to be a process of notifying any people criticised in the report so they can correct factual errors and be ready to respond to those criticisms when they become public. It is not intended to allow protected negotiation between the commission and teams of expensive lawyers—incidentally, those expensive lawyers are paid for by the taxpayer—who negotiate ad nauseam, at any cost, to protect their client’s reputation, even over and above the national interest. That is what is happening.

We know that finally, after all that, the Iraq inquiry is now due to submit its report to the Government next week. The next stage will be security clearance before publication. The Prime Minister stated last October that he fully expected security clearance to take less than two weeks, the time taken by the equally enormous Saville inquiry. Let us remember that the Saville inquiry took decades to come to its conclusion, but it was cleared in two weeks. I cannot believe that clearance will take any longer than that, given, as we already know, that every single piece of this report has already been negotiated with Whitehall, presumably on the basis of security considerations.

Given that, and the Prime Minister’s declaration that he is as exasperated as anyone by the delays to publication, the public ought to expect the report to be published in the first week of May. That should be the reasonable conclusion, but that is not the case. There are now reports that the publication of the report will be postponed until after the EU referendum at the end of June. This is frankly outrageous. It is for this reason that I, together with right hon. and hon. Members from all parties in this House, have called for this debate. We demand that the Government publish the report as soon as security clearance is complete, and certainly no more than two weeks after its receipt.

While this inquiry has lumbered on, there have been at least three significant foreign policy decisions that could have been dramatically different had we had the benefit of the Iraq inquiry’s findings. The decision to intervene in Libya was intended to prevent a massacre, but since then, partly because we changed the aim to regime change, the country has descended into civil war and miserable, fractured chaos. On the question of regime change, when the Prime Minister first asked this House to support military action against the Assad regime in Syria in 2013, the House turned him down. Had the House not blocked military intervention, we could have ended up as military supporters of our now sworn enemies, IS. In Iraq, the UK is of course involved in the ongoing civil war that has raged since the invasion in 2003.

There are lessons to learn from the Iraq war about our foreign policy, our political decisions to go to war and our military operations. The longer we leave it, the less useful these lessons will be, and the more likely it is that we will make the same mistakes. When decisions such as those that were made in Libya, Syria and Iraq are made without knowledge of the facts, mistakes are made and sometimes people die as a result. Therefore, it is not hyperbole to say that the delay to the Iraq inquiry could cost lives because bad decisions may be made. I would go further and say that it probably has cost lives because bad decisions were made. Indeed, many of the revelations in the report will come too late to be useful in relation to decisions that have already been taken. This is the irrecoverable harm that has been caused by the delays—the unconscionable delays—in this inquiry.

Mr Graham Allen (Nottingham North) (Lab) The right hon. Gentleman is absolutely right that the Iraq war was the most appalling miscalculation and the most idiotic way of conducting foreign policy in living memory. As he is looking to the future, does he accept that the fracture within Islam that the war exacerbated and the Pandora’s box that was then opened of violence and extremism within Islam, both in the middle east and internationally, are sadly the gift of the Iraq war that will keep on giving, and that there may be decades’ worth of interventions from extreme Islamic elements across the globe?

Mr Davis I do not think it is a question of “may be”; I think there will be the continued disruption of international affairs and the continued threat of terrorism. Europol’s assessment that there are 5,000 jihadists in Europe implies an arrival rate of 1,000 a year, and the rate is going up, not down. It is clear that the hon. Gentleman is absolutely right.

That brings us to a significant point. When the individual Prime Ministers involved in each of the decisions I mentioned made their decision, I am sure that in their own mind they were doing the right thing—they were trying to save lives, to save a civilisation or to intervene to prevent further terrorism. The trouble is that every single one of them made simplistic decisions, without detailed understanding. The complexity of the issues they were reaching into was beyond their knowledge. It is correcting, enhancing and improving that knowledge that the inquiry report is all about.

I am no pacifist, but I find myself horrified at the thoughtless, aggressive and unnecessary interventions by the west in areas that it does not understand. I did not like the Gaddafi regime; I did not like the Saddam Hussein regime; I do not particularly like the Bashar Assad regime, but ripping them out has led to something even worse. The hon. Member for Nottingham North (Mr Allen) is therefore absolutely right in his analysis, which demonstrates why this report and its speed of preparation are so important.

Mr Andrew Mitchell (Sutton Coldfield) (Con) My right hon. Friend is making an immensely compelling point. Does he agree that when the report is published, which, I like him, hope will be as soon as possible, although the tendency in the British media will be to use it as a trial of the former Prime Minister—Blair guilty or innocent—the great gain of the report will be in showing how the whole mechanism of government worked in the run-up to the decision to go to war? A Prime Minister is not Dr Strangelove; this is about how the whole machine in Whitehall works.

Mr Davis My right hon. Friend will forgive me if I do not follow him down his comparison between Dr Strangelove and past Prime Ministers, but he is right in one respect: the most important element of this is what we learn from our mistakes. However, there are also issues of accountability and closure, which I will return to in a moment.

Pete Wishart (Perth and North Perthshire) (SNP) I am reluctant to interrupt, because I am very much enjoying the powerful case that the right hon. Gentleman is making, but I invite him to ignore the representations of his colleague, the right hon. Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell), because this war is bound up with one key individual: Tony Blair. For ever and a day, he will be associated with this particular war. It was personalised around the personality of that Prime Minister. As far as I am concerned, he could have a tattoo across his forehead reading “Iraq”, such is his legacy. This will be a comment and a statement about his day. I was in this House when we voted to go to war, as was the right hon. Member for Haltemprice and Howden (Mr Davis), and I had to listen to the nonsense and drivel that was that former Prime Minister’s case for war. Please let us make sure that where blame is to be apportioned, it is apportioned rightly.

Mr Davis I will come back to this issue in the latter part of my speech. My right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell) and I have a very dear common friend who thinks that Mr Blair should be at The Hague, so there is a range of opinion on this, but to come to that conclusion today would be to pre-empt the report. I do not intend to do that, but I do intend to turn to the issue of accountability in a minute.

Mr Graham Allen Just to get the balance correct, if we go back to the time of the vote, a majority of the non-payroll vote in the Labour party—122 Members, and I was proud to be one of the organisers—actually rebelled against their own Government. Had the Conservative party supported us we would not have gone to war. Those are historical matters, but it is important to place on the record that the biggest ever parliamentary rebellion within a governing party was by the Labour party on the issue of taking us to war. Many of us at the time realised that it would be a disaster, but none of us realised what an appalling disaster it would be—one that would carry on for decades and influence us domestically as well as in the middle east.

Mr Davis The hon. Gentleman has made his point well, but one of the issues that the report will face up to, one hopes, is the veracity of what was told to the House that day. That will be one of the key issues, which is why the argument between Sir John Chilcot and Whitehall is very important. Reading between the lines of his letters, that argument was very much about what decisions were taken before the House made its decision and after—what was told to the House, whether it was accurate, whether it was based on impartial briefings and whether, indeed, the politics of the issue coloured the views of important components of the state. I am not going to attempt to answer those questions today, but I would be incredibly disappointed if the commission’s report did not actually answer them in plain English. That is why I would not be drawn by my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield, who is a very great friend of mine. The report has to answer those questions; what the tabloid and other press do with the report the day after publication is not for me.

I will press on, briefly, with the lessons to learn not just about the war but about how we should conduct these inquiries. The Government now intend to review the Maxwellisation process, in which those who have been criticised in a report are given the chance to respond. That is to be welcomed, as Maxwellisation has been responsible for half the delays here. It is clear that strict time controls are needed for future inquiries. It cannot be right that those who are to be criticised can delay publication for their own interests, so I hope that strict time controls will arise as a result.

There is no reason for further delay. It has been suggested that the delay between the report being security cleared and its publication is because it needs to be proof-read and typeset. That would be unacceptable if true. The report is already in electronic format. It has already been repeatedly checked for accuracy, and will be checked again by the security services. It will have been read by more people than some newspapers. The fact is that the report has been pored over by many people for five years. We are in the 21st century, not the era of hot lead typesetting. Someone said to me this morning that I might have summarised the rather long motion rather more crisply by saying, “This House instructs Sir John Chilcot simply to press ‘send’.”

Liz Saville Roberts (Dwyfor Meirionnydd) (PC) I am sure that the right hon. Gentleman agrees that the public at large, and bereaved families in particular, deserve answers, so redactions must be kept to an absolute minimum. Those families should not have to endure any further suggestions of a cover-up.

Mr Davis The hon. Lady is absolutely right, but, to be honest with her, I will be astonished if there are any redactions in the report. I remember that once, when I was Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, a report was given to me about the overrun of MI5 and MI6 on their buildings. It had four chapters: the introduction, the chapter on MI6, the chapter on MI5 and the conclusion. The chapters on MI5 and MI6 were virtually identical, except that all the redactions were different. We rang up MI5 and said, “MI6 has agreed to all these,” then we rang up MI6 and said, “MI5 has agreed to all these,” and then we removed nearly all the redactions. They were political—they were redactions to preserve the interests of the bureaucracy involved, not the national interest. The simple truth is that the facts in the report have already been cleared. That is what two years of the argument was about. If there is a single redaction, I and others will be looking at it very closely and asking why it was not redacted years ago instead of now. The hon. Lady is absolutely right about the rights of the families in this affair.

There is no doubt that the whole country is fed up with waiting for the final report, but none more so than the families of those 179 British soldiers who died fighting for their country in Iraq. The families have suffered for years as this inquiry has dragged on and on, and it would be disgraceful to make them wait for months longer, just because the Government are worried about what effect—if any—the report will have on the referendum. I cannot imagine what impact that might be, given that there is no party political advantage in this to either side.

The Conservatives and Labour both supported the war. As the hon. Member for Nottingham North said, half the Labour party stood back or voted against it, and there is no advantage either way. The inquiry was started by Labour and supported by the Prime Minister. It is therefore inconceivable that the Government should seek to wait until after the June referendum to publish the report, and I hope that when the Minister replies to the debate, he will make it clear that that will not happen—I am sure he will address that point directly.

Let us put this issue in context. If the report waits until June, it will be seven years since the inquiry started, and some parents of the dead soldiers will have been waiting 10 or 12 years for an answer. To give the House a simple comparison, the Israeli Government appointed the Winograd commission in 2006 to investigate the war with Lebanon. It produced its interim report not in seven years but in seven months, and it was highly critical of the existing Government that had set it up. The final report was produced after 17 months. Any argument for delay on grounds of political sensitivity or national security would be far more pressing in Israel, where that is a matter of daily life and death to all its citizens. Because of that, it is also a matter of very high and extremely important politics. If Israel can produce a report in seven and 17 months, we should be able to do it in a lot less than seven years.

Some people will, of course, be held to account in this report; otherwise it will properly be dismissed as a whitewash. That is to be expected and must be right. However, this is principally about learning from mistakes that we made as a nation, and ensuring that we do not make the same mistakes again. It is also about remembering those who have suffered great loss, and giving them some measure of solace in the truth and some degree of closure. This is about doing the honourable thing by those who have made the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of their nation, and to delay any further for no good reason would be an insult to those brave soldiers who died in the Iraq war, and a cruel insult to their families who have waited more than six years for a proper answer.

David Davis – 2016 Speech on Brexit

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis at Institute of Chartered Engineers in London on 4 February 2016.

It has been over 43 years since Britain joined the European Economic Community. For all that time there have been calls for Europe to reform. For Europe to be more democratic, more competitive, more functional. And for Britain to lead that reform.

The result? If anything Europe has become less democratic, less competitive and more dysfunctional. And Britain has become more side-lined.

The EU has been in decline for some time now. There is no change of course in sight. The risks involved in staying are clear for all to see – low growth, high unemployment, and waning influence.

In 1975 the EU was the bright future, a vision of a better world. Now it is a crumbling relic from a gloomy past. We must raise our eyes to the wider world.

The UK has been a persistent advocate of reforming and modernising the EU.

Even a decade ago there was hope of radical reform, as the EU expanded from 15 nations to 28. Some thought the new members, only recently independent themselves, would shift the EU away from its centralising, statist destination, and towards a more democratic, more trade-focussed direction.

The hope was that Europe would become ‘wider, not deeper’. With hindsight, this hope now looks ridiculous. The siren calls for ‘more Europe’ have only increased.

The UK also proselytised for a ‘two-tier’ or ‘two speed’ Europe, with a loose decentralised group around a more centralised Franco-German core. With the Eurozone, we now have a de facto two-tier Europe, but one that works to the detriment of the non-Eurozone countries.

Centred on Germany, the EU’s largest and most powerful nation and the paymaster of Europe, the Eurozone constitutes a dominant majority.

This is downright dangerous. The core Eurozone countries will not accept any curtailment of the decisions they need to make to save the Euro. At the same time, the non-Eurozone countries cannot accept decisions that are against their interests, imposed on them by the Eurozone core.

It will only lead to conflict, conflict that can only be prevented by veto procedures that would be unacceptable to either side.

Economic growth on the continent has ground to a halt. Since the turn of the century, the EU has grown at a third of the rate of the global average, and the Eurozone has grown even more slowly than that. Europe’s share of global GDP is falling, as is its share of global trade. This trend is expected to continue.

When we last voted on our membership in 1975, trade with Europe was the vast majority of our total trade. This has fallen since then, and in 2008 the UK started to trade more with the rest of the world than with Europe. The fact is that Europe is becoming less and less important.

The Euro has become a destroyer of jobs. Unemployment across the continent is running at almost 10%, with youth unemployment double that at 20%. For individual countries, these figures are even worse.

Greece and Spain are suffering from youth unemployment rates of nearly 50%, and Italy almost 40%. Unemployment is destroying the prospects of a whole generation of young Europeans.

The Euro is an experiment that has failed. In its short life it is already responsible for sovereign debt crises in several European countries, high unemployment, and dramatic trade imbalances across the Eurozone.

But then the European project has been a litany of failures. From economic catastrophe, the collapsing single currency experiment, a poor record on increasing trade, the damage done by merging home affairs, to the undoubted foreign policy failures.

Then there is the Schengen Zone. The passport-less travel area once held up as the pinnacle of European integration is crumbling before our very eyes. The migration crisis that has brought more than a million refugees to Europe’s shores, with many more expected to come, is a stake in the heart of a borderless Europe.

The strength of any policy can only be judged by how it copes with crisis. Schengen, just like the Euro, is failing under the pressure.

Even with justice, the EU causes conflict.

From the faulty European Arrest Warrant, that has led to innocent Brits being detained for months overseas in terrible conditions without trial, to the slow steady creep of the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, we are increasingly finding that our justice system is incompatible with the one on the continent.

So the problems facing the EU are mounting up. Economic stagnation, high debt, high unemployment, high regulation, ineffective foreign policy and failing internal policies.

This is the backdrop to the Government’s renegotiation of our term of membership.

Government’s Negotiation

The Government has four strands to its renegotiation:

• economic governance, ensuring that the Union operates for the benefit of all 28 members;

• competitiveness, and a target to cut the regulatory burden for business;

• sovereignty, and an opt-out for Britain from ‘ever closer union’;

• and finally immigration, and the proposed ‘emergency brake’.

This renegotiation is a once in a generation opportunity. Unfortunately, the Government has spent ed this opportunity on demands are so unambitious as to be a waste of time.

The concessions outlined by the Prime Minister on Tuesday will have little, if any, impact on the nature of the EU. They will do almost nothing to address the very issues that the Government itself has identified.

Take immigration.

265,000 people migrated to the UK from the EU in the last year. Many of them from poorer, Eastern European countries.

Such high levels of migration are to be expected given the enormous wage differentials across Europe. There are 6 EU members where the average wage is less than a third of the UK’s minimum wage, and a further 8 countries where it is less than half.

Given such incentives, it is surprising that more people are not making the journey.

This has consistently been a top issue for voters for over a decade.

The Government’s answer? That an ‘emergency brake’ system be put in place, that would allow member states to partly deny in-work benefits to new arrivals for up to four years.

But the big caveat is that it would be necessary to prove that services were under strain, and secure the approval of a majority of other EU states.

It is rumoured that a French negotiator told his British counterpart that they were, “happy to give the British anything they wanted, so long as it was nothing of substance.” He must have had the emergency brake in mind when he said it.

When you look at the figures, it is clear that even should the measure be introduced, the emergency brake will have no impact whatsoever.

This is for two reasons.

The first is that very few EU arrivals claim in-work benefits in their first four years.

In the first year after arrival, only 10% of EU nationals claim tax credits. This number jumps to around 20% by the fourth year.

Take up of Tax Credits by EU Nationals
Thanks to: Michael O’Connor & Stronger In Numbers​

This is because 50% of migrants from the continent are single and childless, with a further 25% not single but also childless. This means that 75% of EU migrants will only be eligible for very low levels of in-work benefits, if at all.

By the time the referendum takes place, a single earner without children on the minimum wage will be entitled to less than £10 per month in tax credits.

Not even with a very generous leap of imagination can anyone believe that the loss of this amount would dissuade people from coming to this country.

The other problem with the brake is that the Government’s own policy to dramatically raise the minimum wage in the form of the national living wage will have the effect of abolishing in-work benefits.

By 2020, when the living wage is due to be £9 per hour, and the personal tax allowance has risen further, in-work benefits will be minimal. And the minimum wage in this country will be an even greater multiple of the average wage of the poorest EU members.

Average Wages in Eastern Europe and the UK Minimum Wage

The Government has said that ‘no calculation has been done on how much the proposed brake will cut EU immigration’. This is hardly surprising given the number will be very close to zero.

Then there is the matter of Parliamentary sovereignty.

The primary reason that I believe Britain should vote for Brexit is not economic, it is political.

It is so that the United Kingdom, the first great liberal democracy of the modern era, the fifth largest economy in the world, can recover control of her own destiny.

The renegotiation does not call for any repatriation of powers. It offers no confirmation of Parliament’s sovereignty. All the Government has demanded is an exemption from ‘ever closer union’, and the Government’s proposed ‘red card’ system to block unwanted laws.

Given the ‘ratchet’ nature of the European Union, the exemption from ‘ever closer union’ is not worth the paper it is written on. And the ‘red card’ proposal is worth even less.

The ‘red card’ system only operates on draft laws, only works if there is a ‘subsidiarity’ argument, and needs the agreement 55% of EU Parliaments.

This is the much the same as the old ‘yellow card’ system, that was also unworkable and which William Hague previously claimed is too difficult to satisfy.

Just consider: a blocking minority in the European Council is 35%. If this 35% cannot be reached, then it is inconceivable that there will be simultaneous rebellions in 15 European Parliaments on the same issue.

The red card is not, on any interpretation, a parliamentary veto. It returns no power to Parliament, does not help us protect our national interests and offers no protection from EU lawmakers.

On the Government’s calls for greater competitiveness, there has not been a single year that has gone by without European council meetings concluding with rallying cries to cut regulation and increase competitiveness.

Yet year after year the regulatory burden increases and Europe’s competitiveness declines. No specific regulations have been identified to be culled. No pro-competitive measures have been unveiled.

There is no reason to think that President Tusk’s almost detail-less commitment to greater competitiveness will be any different to all the other commitments that have gone before.

In summary, the Government’s renegotiation boils down to a few vague measures that either won’t have any effect, or will change so little as to not be worth the effort.

The most common reaction from the press and the public seems to be, “is that it?”

We have squandered our only opportunity to gain any meaningful reform for Europe.

Given the disastrous direction of Europe, its 40 year long inexorable and irreversible trend to more centralisation, and the lack of meaningful change, in my view the safest option for Britain is to leave.

It is not just that exit from Europe is nothing to fear. For Britain to remain as a member of the European Union would be to bind us to an institution that is creating a slew of unnecessary risks, would be to forgo control of our own destiny, and to give up on real opportunities to improve the lot of our people.

Economic Consequences of Brexit

So given that the safe course for Britain is to leave, it is vital to set out how we will leave, and what sort of relationship we can expect once we do.

There are some who are nervous of laying out in detail how we see it playing out. I am not.

This is the biggest question we will face in a generation. It is our democratic duty to make the consequences clear. The options are very good ones. And you cannot beat something with nothing, even if that something is membership of the creaking edifice that is the EU.

In 2006 Professor Patrick Minford assessed that the net effect of the EU on costs and competitiveness was so detrimental that departure from it was likely to prove beneficial even if all the government managed to negotiate in Brexit was WTO terms of trade – ie. the minimum legally possible.

At the time I thought that was an optimistic view of Brexit. However, that was before I took a hard look at the numbers.

The starting point is to ask what benefits we derive from our membership of the EU, namely trade, investment and access to global markets.

It has long been claimed that membership of the EU increases trade, and with it wealth and welfare, among its members.

Well let us just assess how accurate that is.

Now understanding and explaining movements in trade is difficult. They can be effected by bank crises, oil shocks, global disruptions like the collapse of the Soviet empire, new members joining the community, new competitors and so on. The best way to assess whether we got an advantage from entering Europe is to compare our export performance into Europe against that of a comparable group of similarly developed competitor countries who did not enter.

This exercise has been done by Michael Burrage in an exercise for the Civitas think tank. He took the European export performance of the UK and measured it against the European export performance of a group consisting of America, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, Norway, and Switzerland.

The three graphs below show this performance in three distinct periods. Before entry into the EU, then after entry in what you might think of as the Common Market period, and then in what might be termed the Single Market period.

Given that the stated intent of the Single Market was to improve on the trading performance of the Common Market, you would expect our performance to get progressively better in each graph. The actual facts are illuminating. Red is the UK, black is the OECD group.
Growth in Value of UK Exports 1960-1972
Thanks to Michael Burrage and Civitas

Growth in Value of UK Exports 1973-1992
Thanks to Michael Burrage and Civitas
Growth in Value of UK Exports 1993-2011
Thanks to Michael Burrage and Civitas

The first graph shows how, prior to our entry into the European Community, we actually performed worse than our non-EU OECD competitors, at least until we were about to enter when we had a sudden sprint.

Then, as the second graph shows, once we were inside the Common Market, our trade with Europe performed better, as you would expect.

The final graph is the most telling. In the Single Market period our exports grew if anything slower than our OECD competitors, despite our membership. During the Single Market period, despite all the costs incurred, the treaties signed, the regulations implemented, despite all the controversies of the European project, our performance in selling to Europe was worse than our competitors outside the EU.

Why is this?

There are two possible reasons. One is that the burden of the Single Market bureaucracy handicapped us against our competitors. This is almost certainly true to some extent, but the far bigger reason is that during the common market period there were high external tariff around Europe.

Trade tariffs during the 1980’s and 1990’s were far higher than they are today, before they were reduced by the World Trade Organisation and its predecessor the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. Our success in the 80s and early 90s was the result of being inside a trade protectionist barrier, and little else. That is now largely gone, and with it we are now at a disadvantage to our global competitors.

European Common External Tariff 1988-2013
World Bank Data

Foreign Direct Investment

Another benefit that we have supposedly derived from our membership is increased foreign direct investment in our economy.

It is certainly true that at the beginning of the Common Market period there was a spike in foreign investment in this country.

However, since the barriers have come down we have received far less foreign investment than either Norway or Switzerland, both outside of the EU, even once we have accounted for their oil industry and financial services.

Growth in FDI 1983-2012 compared with 3 independent countries
Thanks to Michael Burrage and Civitas

So there seems to have been no discernible benefits to our trade or to foreign direct investment.

The final supposed benefit of our membership is how the EU ‘increases our influence on the world stage’, and increases our ‘clout’, allowing us to secure more favourable trade terms across the world.

Put to one side how our adding our ‘clout’ has not improved the EU’s dreadfully weak foreign policy.

We can test out how well that ‘clout’ has served our interest if we look at the EU’s performance on trade agreements.

When negotiating trade agreements with other countries, the EU has to balance the interests of the 28 different member states. This has had dire consequences for the UK.

To start with trade agreements negotiated by the EU take a very long time to conclude. We still don’t have free trade agreements with China, India or the US. The talks with India have been ongoing for almost a decade.

Our interests are not well represented in trade negotiations. The majority of free trade agreements that have been successfully negotiated by the EU are with North African or South American countries, with far more historical and cultural links to Mediterranean countries than to us.

The only Commonwealth country to enjoy a free trade agreement with the EU so far is South Africa, and that has more to do with Nelson Mandela than the UK’s ‘clout’. Other than that the first will be Canada, which is just pending.

This is all a function of how marginalised Britain’s interests are within the EU. It is no surprise than we have been outvoted in the Council more than twice as often as any other country.

The consequence of this is that these trade deals are not tailored to our requirements.

Much has been made of how hard it would be for a single country to negotiate successful trade deals on its own. But if we compare the EU’s trade deals to those that Switzerland have negotiated, with its small population and limited global influence, then we see something interesting.

Free Trade Agreements

 

Thanks to Michael Burrage and Civitas

Switzerland have seen an increase in growth rates in trade as a result of two thirds of their free trade agreements. The UK has only seen an increase in growth rates in trade from one third of the EU’s free trade deals.

So little Switzerland, with its population of 8 million, is able to negotiate better trade deals for itself than the EU does on our behalf.

Does anyone seriously believe that Britain, the fifth largest economy in the world, would not be able to negotiate by itself at least as successfully as Switzerland?

Just as damning is that the majority of these trade agreements do not include services. Services account for over three quarters of all the UK’s economic activity. They have provided much of our economic growth in recent years, as well as most new employment.

Our creative industries, our financial services and legal services are some of the best in the world. It seems certain that they would be included in any trade deal negotiated by the UK.

So on trade, on investment, and on access to overseas markets the benefits we have supposedly derived from the EU are far less than commonly understood. They may well be negative.

As I said, I was initially doubtful of Professor Minford’s assessment that we would be better off outside of the EU irrespective of the EU’s response. But he is very likely to be right.

Those business groups such as Goldman Sachs and the CBI, who have warned of catastrophe should we leave, are likely to be wrong.

It is not surprising that these business are making the argument to stay in.

At the end of the day these businesses are arguing for their own, very narrow interest. Indeed, I think we should all raise an eyebrow at the tremendous concern that these companies are showing for our national welfare, given that at least six of Britain’s ten biggest multinationals pay no corporation tax at all.

Nevertheless, we should pay attention to their concerns. They have huge sunk costs in distribution and supply networks, and worry about losing access to existing EU markets. And whilst they are not job creators or particularly good innovators, they still represent an important component of our economy.

Employment by size of company 1998-2010
Thanks to University of Aston

These businesses can relax. There is no doubt that such access would continue in the event of British exit. No-one can reasonably say that the UK would cease to have access to European markets.

The worst case scenario is that the UK would revert to trade on a World Trade Organisation basis, with tariffs imposed on our exports into the EU.
WTO Trade Position

WTO Trade Position
Thanks to Open Europe

Let us leave aside cars and food for the moment. Everything else has relatively small barriers, and these are almost certainly negotiable down to zero.

If Europe wants to stick to trading on a WTO basis, they are very badly positioned to do so.

Everyone knows that the balance of trade is in Europe’s favour.

UK Trade Balance with EU and non-EU Countries 2000-2014
ONS Data

We currently import £59 billion more from Europe than we export. After Brexit we would be Europe’s largest export market, worth £289 billion in 2014, larger than China.

To see our importance to Europe, you only need to walk down the street. More than a quarter of all cars sold in this country are Mercedes, BMWs, Audis or VWs. And those are just some of the German brands. We are Europe’s second largest, and fastest growing car market.

This negotiation will primarily be about politics, and our European colleagues pre-eminently concerned about their national interest.

We are too valuable a market for Europe to shut off. Within minutes of a vote for Brexit the CEO’s of Mercedes, BMW, VW and Audi will be knocking down Chancellor Merkel’s door demanding that there be no barriers to German access to the British market.

And while they are at it they will be demanding that those British companies that they own will have uninterrupted access to Europe. We are talking Mini and Rolls Royce, owned by BMW, and Bentley, owned by Volkswagen. Premium brands with healthy demand across Europe.

And this is not just German cars. The same will happen with Shell and Unilever in the Netherlands, EDF, EADS and the viticultural trade associations in France, Seat in Spain, and Fiat and the fashion designers in Italy.

The pressure from European companies for a free trade deal between the UK and the remaining member of the European Union would be huge.

We have far more to gain than we have to lose, while the opposite is true for the EU. People have spoken, wrongly, about 3.3 million British jobs being ‘linked’ to our membership of the EU. Well there are over 5 million jobs on the continent that are linked to trade with Britain.

Trade and Jobs into UK
Thanks to Daniel Hannan

Access to our market is more important to Europe than our access to theirs.

To put it bluntly, the most powerful country in Europe needs this negotiation to succeed to the tune of a million jobs, on cars alone. The second most powerful needs it to the tune of half a million jobs, on wine and cheese alone. The first few months may be hysterical, but the leaders of France, Germany, Spain, Italy Poland and the rest know that the way to lose elections is to destroy your own industries. That is a powerful advantage for us.

And then there are the absolute benefits that Britain would gain. Our food imports would be cheaper outside of the common external tariff. We would be free to reduce our regulatory burden, making our businesses more competitive. We would be able to negotiate our own trade deals, opening up new markets.

And then there is the City.

The prevailing thought seems to be that the City would be damaged should we leave the EU. This is extremely unlikely, and it would be perfectly possible to negotiate proper protection for any significant areas at risk.

There are two obvious examples where the City might gain.

TTIP, the upcoming EU-US trade deal looks likely to exclude financial services, due to a tiff between American and French film makers, and American concerns about having to recognise .

Any UK-US trade deal would not omit one of the UK’s most important sectors.

And then is the Financial Transaction Tax. Within the EU we would face the circumstance where French bonds sold in the City would have to have the tax charged on them, and then remitted to the French Treasury.

Outside the EU, the city would be free to work as before, such as trading in euro-denominated bonds, while ensuring that it is free of the threat of an FTT, as well as being free of all the other stifling European legislation.

And any action taken against an independent City would de facto be also against New York and Hong Kong, which would be too stupid for words.

In total, it is easy to see Britain could be better off out, even on such terms. And this is the very worst case scenario.

Some people have suggested that we should look to Norway, or to Switzerland, to see what terms we can expect once we have left.

The idea that we have to fit our future into some Procrustean bed created for far smaller countries is nonsense.

Key Negotiation Aims

The conventional options are laid out in the table, with a reminder of what they involve. We do not need to disappear into the details – always a problem with discussions on Europe – but let me outline what we should take from them.

The first one, EEA membership, often called the ‘Norway option’, works well for Norway but is not really appropriate for a major power like the UK.

Sometimes pejoratively described as ‘government by fax’, the balance of power looks to be squarely on the EU side. The disparity is exaggerated – Norway is represented on 200 EU committees, it does not have to accept every ruling, half its financial contributions are voluntary, and many of the EU’s regulations are copied from other international organisations’ requests – organisations on which Norway is represented and we are not!

Nevertheless, as it stands this model would not work for us. To make it viable it would need an arbitration court (not the ECJ), a dispute resolution procedure, and a number of other institutional changes. It would be possible to design and even negotiate such a structure, but it would take much more than 2 years.

The Swiss option, EFTA membership plus a host of bilateral treaties, is the best starting place and is informative in many ways.

It is not perfect for us however. It incorporates ‘free movement of people’ for the moment, although there is a clash coming on that, after a Swiss referendum was carried in favour of applying an emergency brake – a real one this time!

However, understand the comparative negotiating position.

Switzerland is a small country surrounded by the EU. Its trade is absolutely dominated by the EU – over 62% of its exports go to Europe. It runs a large trade surplus, and it is not big enough to be a critical market for any EU nation.

The negotiation between the EU and Switzerland in the 1990s was marked by some hostility after it rejected EU membership, and yet it struck a decent deal.

The optimum aim for us would be similar, but without the free movement of peoples. That would not be on the table. Essentially we would be looking for a full scale free trade agreement. And it has just been done by another country.

If you want a model of how this would look, go on the European Commission website and look at the Canadian Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement that the EU has just struck.

It eliminates all customs duties, which the EU website excitedly describes as worth €470 million a year to EU business. A similar deal with Britain would save it 5 times that on cars alone.

This would be a perfectly good starting point for our discussions with the Commission.

At the same time these negotiations are going on Britain will need to undertake a massive programme of simultaneous negotiations to negotiate free trade agreements with target countries that will be key to a more global approach.

Trade Targets

If you read as many assessments of Brexit as I have, you can easily come to the conclusion that each side of the argument tends to get exaggerated. I am certain that the catastrophic predictions of the Europhiles are simply nonsense. That is why Toyota, Nissan, Airbus, even BMW, Opel and Volkswagen have now said that Brexit will not hinder their investments in Britain, sometimes in reversal of previous positions.

On the pro Brexit side, too, there are a range of estimates from modestly to dramatically better off. The difference here depends most upon exactly what we choose to do with the country and its new found freedoms. The greatest improvements will come if we grasp the opportunities for free trade with both hands.

That means immediately seeking Free Trade Agreements with the biggest prospective markets as fast as possible. There is no reason why many of these cannot be achieved within two years. We can pick up the almost complete agreement between the EU and Canada, and if anything liberalise it. We can accelerate our component of the TTIP deal with the USA, and include financial services.

Trade Targets

 

Diverting our current contributions to the EU will help to smooth the transition period following the referendum.

The most effective policy would be to continue, in the short term, all of the EU’s current spending within the UK.

This means continuing to support agriculture, separate from the Common Agricultural Policy, as well as continuing research grants and regional funding.

But this would not come near to accounting for our total contributions – around £18 billion gross and £9 billion net.

We should find a way of improving the global trade performance of our economy. The companies that find it hard to export are the small and medium ones, for obvious reasons. They do not have the huge international sales and transport departments of the biggest companies.

We could afford to fund a new Board of Trade, dedicated to helping British businesses create new links to countries with which we achieve trade deals.

The funding would be available to set up an office in every major commercial centre and capital, completely separate from the Foreign Office, staffed with experts who know the language, the customs and the regulations and are on hand to help British businesses develop links in the country.

Imagine an 0800 number and an email address where a small manufacturer in Lancashire can call Shanghai or Mumbai or Sao Paolo, and find out in English how to negotiate the import regulations, find a freight forwarder, hire a warehouse, translate a brochure, the simple things that stop too many small businesses from operating abroad. They may be small companies, but this is not small beer: I am talking a billion pound project here.

We must see Brexit as a great opportunity to refocus our economy on global, rather the regional, trade. This is an opportunity to renew our strong relationships with Commonwealth and Anglosphere countries.

These parts of the world are growing faster than Europe. We share history, culture and language. We have family ties. We even share similar legal systems. The usual barriers to trade are largely absent.

The Prime Minister has repeatedly stated that we are a trading nation with global horizons. This is undoubtedly true. So it is time we unshackled ourselves, and began to focus policy on trading with the wider world, rather than just within Europe.

We would also have the opportunity to reform our economy, pushing through the changes necessary to create a dynamic, modern economy. Competitive tax rates, a competitive labour market, and effective, rather than burdensome, regulation. After Brexit we can put all that right without asking Brussel’s permission.

The European Union was a noble vision. It was borne out of Europe’s history. A history of war, conflict, tyranny and destruction.

Two world wars ripped Western Europe apart. It is an entirely understandable, indeed an admirable, response to such horror to want to break down national barriers and increase bonds between peoples and countries.

Spain emerged from Franco’s tyranny. Portugal from Caetano. Greece shook off the rule of the Colonels. And after the Berlin Wall fell, whole swathes of Eastern Europe rediscovered democracy and liberty.

Faced with such a history it is entirely understandable that the European Union came into being. It is a profoundly peaceful project, dedicated to protecting democracy across Europe.

But this history is not our history. Britain has its own proud tradition of fighting tyranny, of protecting liberty and democracy both at home and abroad.

For us, Europe has always been about trade. For the continent, it is about so much more. This does not mean either side is wrong. But the European Project is not right for us. The Global Project is.

David Davis – 2005 Speech on Police Reform

Below is the text of the speech made by David Davis, the then Shadow Home Secretary, on 19 December 2005.

The matter we are debating this afternoon – the prospective reduction of 43 police forces to 12 regional forces – is enormously important.

The constitutional independence of the police, their local accountability, their operational effectiveness, their cost effectiveness, the stability of their finances, their very identity with their local communities, are all at risk.

That is why the Association of Police Authorities has rightly called for a full parliamentary debate on this important issue.

In his recent letter to their Chairman, the Home Secretary said “there will be an opportunity for Parliament to debate in full the issues raised by the review on Monday 19 December”.

So what do we have?

A debate timed to fall after the formal meetings of most or all of the relevant police authorities, despite the Home Secretary’s demand that those authorities meet his deadline of the end of this week.

A debate held just before Christmas, after a major Prime Ministerial statement, without a substantive vote.

You know, one might almost come to the conclusion that the Home Secretary did not want much press coverage for this issue.

This is hardly the full debate this subject deserves.

The Home Secretary should know that on this side of the House, we expect a much more extensive debate on the future of policing in the New Year.

We are not opposed to changing policing in Britain.

We have long argued for reform and for a greater focus on neighbourhood policing.

We are keen to work with the Government to find the best way to achieve it.

We recognise that Britain faces growing threats from terrorism and organised crime which often require greater co-operation across forces.

But the Home Secretary would do well to heed the words of one Chief Constable who said rightly that “All serious and organised crime has a local base”.

That is why we are very concerned about plans to force mergers between forces, which will inevitably make policing more remote from the people.

And we believe this is all happening too fast.

It’s happening without serious thought about the consequences.

And it is being driven by the wrong motives.

Rather than taking their time, the Government is trying to force the changes through almost without proper debate.

Rather than being driven by operational effectiveness, the changes are being driven by a blind belief in centralisation that defies the facts.

Rather than focusing on the needs of local people, they are being driven by an agenda of regionalisation that this government continues to pursue against the will of the people.

So while we welcome today’s debate, I would say to the Home Secretary that he has a long way to go before he proves the case for the changes he is advocating.

Real neighbourhood policing

We on this side of the House have long had a clear view of the kind of reform our police service needs.

We want to see genuine neighbourhood policing, which is responsive to the needs of local people.

We want the police to be genuinely accountable to the people they serve, which is why we continue to believe in the concept of elected police commissioners.

The evidence suggests that smaller policing units are the most effective.

Recent research from the think-tank Policy Exchange puts it like this:

“smaller forces, with a strong commitment to visible policing, are among the most successful at cutting crime and providing public reassurance”.

In Policy Exchange’s ranking of police forces, the smaller forces – such as Dyfed-Powys, Gloucestershire, Northamptonshire and Dorset – came out on top.

That evidence accords with the Home Office’s own Performance Assessments for 2004-05, which shows that three of the top five performing police forces in Britain have less than 4,000 officers.

This evidence mirrors the international experience.

The greatest and most high-profile success in tackling crime in recent years is found in some American cities, notably New York.

They managed to cut crime by more than a half in just ten years.

How?

Because they adopted a system of locally managed, directed and financed policing.

So with all this evidence to hand, we believe in retaining and enhancing the connection between local police and local people.

The Government’s centralising approach

But as the House will know, the Government wants to move in the opposite direction.

Fuelled by the O’Connor report – on which the current debate is based – the Home Secretary is proposing to replace many existing constabularies with larger and more remote police forces.

He justifies this with his now familiar claim that it is necessary to tackle the new terrorist threat.

That argument, it seems, can cover a multitude of sins.

But should this go ahead, we fear it will be the thin end of the wedge – the first step down the road to making all policing more remote and less responsive to local people.

In an earlier debate, the Hon Member for Stockton North (Frank Cook) – who has been very vocal on this subject – quoted the report’s author, Denis O’Connor, as saying:

“I was asked to put forward a protective services argument, not a critical assessment of forces” .

That suggests that the Home Secretary is trying to use this report as something it is not.

As so often, the Government seems to have come to a decision and then tried to find the evidence to support it.

Lack of public support

That perhaps is why the Home Secretary was very quick to say which of the five options outlined in the report he preferred.

He supports the proposed move to fewer, strategic forces.

There was absolutely no mention of this in the Labour Party’s election manifesto earlier this year.

Perhaps that is because they knew how unpopular it would be.

One opinion poll conducted by MORI for the Cleveland Force found public support for the plan at just 8%.

A similar poll for the Cumbrian force found a majority against the merger proposal.

This is mirrored elsewhere.

In the earlier debate in Westminster Hall, my Hon Friend the Member for Aldershot reported how his own police force of Hampshire had told him:

“At an independently run, public focus group consultation event held with residents, on November 19th our residents were unanimous across all groups that Hampshire Constabulary should not be amalgamated and should remain a single force.”

Indeed, there has been a burgeoning concern across the country as people have come to realise that their local police force might disappear.

And little wonder.

Some of the proposed new forces are simply too huge to be as effective as those they would replace.

Take the proposed mergers in the South East for example.

If that goes ahead, Kent’s officers could be closer to Calais than to their new regional headquarters.

Some officers in the proposed South West Regional Force would have to drive for 5 hours to make it to their new regional home.

Officers in the North West would have to travel for 2 and a half hours to make it from one side of their new force to the other.

Some officers in Wales would have to travel for around 5 hours to visit a headquarters in Cardiff.

Regionalisation

Mr Speaker,

We could accept this if we thought there would be genuine benefits to the community.

But, as I said earlier, all the evidence demonstrates that the best police forces are the smallest ones that are able to respond to the needs of the local community.

There is absolutely nothing to stop those forces co-operating effectively as they do now, but they should not be forced to do so.

Now the Home Secretary will claim that local policing will remain through the Basic Command Units which, he says, are accountable.

But there is absolutely no true accountability here at all.

The BCUs take their direction from above and report to those above them.

Local people have no control over them whatsoever.

What happens if they do something wrong?

Can they be fired? No.

Can they be replaced? No.

Can they be held to account in any way by the people they serve?

Answer, no.

And how much more damaging will it be when they take their direction from a Chief Constable who may be hundreds of miles away?

The Home Secretary says that he has a “desire to establish mechanisms that … effectively hold BCU commanders to account”.

But then he admits that these mechanisms would be “non-statutory”.

Mr Speaker, it’s not enough for the Home Secretary to “desire” accountability.

There must be formal mechanisms to put local accountability in place.

But the Government has shown minimal interest in this issue, and frankly we know why.

There is a wider agenda behind the Government’s plan.

We can already see how the Government’s failed regionalisation agenda is being brought in through the backdoor.

What began in planning is now filtering through to the emergency services.

The ambulance service is being reorganised.

So is the fire service.

The police are just the latest body to face the zeal of the Government’s great drive towards regionalisation.

The Home Secretary cannot deny the regionalism lying beneath his proposals.

Why, if this reform is not driven by a regional agenda, would the Hampshire Police Authority be forbidden from amalgamating with the neighbouring Dorset or Wiltshire forces – as my Hon. Friend the Member for the Isle of Wight (Andrew Turner) pointed out in the debate in Westminster Hall?

The answer is that they would then cross the arbitrary Government Office boundaries.

It is clear that the amalgamations the Government envisages can only take place where there is a regional driver behind them.

As Warwickshire Police Force – the smallest force in the country outside the City of London – said in an early response to the report:

“The Home Secretary has made it clear that the restructuring of forces has to take place within existing regional boundaries”. (Press Release, 11 October 2005).

Why?

If it is so important that we create larger, strategic forces to fight terrorism and organised crime, why should we let regional boundaries dictate how those forces are formed?
Are the criminals going to mysteriously respect regional boundaries?

If this reform was truly about operational effectiveness, it should be solely about doing what is most effective, not about fitting the government’s discredited, one size fits – all prejudices and preconceptions.

Mr Speaker, this Government’s plans for Regional Government were defeated soundly in a referendum of the people.

When will they accept that fact – rather than trying to implement them through the back door?

The speed of change

There may be a case for amalgamation in some parts of the country.

We accept that.

Our concern is that the Government is forcing it on police forces that do not want it, and do not need it.
As one Chief Constable said:

“There’s not been enough critical examination of the report.

Restructuring may be exactly what two or three forces in one part of the country need and may make totally sound sense.

But it does not follow that it needs to work like that in every part of the country” (Tim Brain, Gloucestershire Police, The Telegraph, 12 December 2005).

And the speed with which this is all being done is one of our greatest concerns.

As that same Chief Constable outlined:

“This is going to be the most profound chance since the modern police service was created in 1829.

Maybe it is not necessary to have a two-year royal commission now, but a debate – not even much of a debate – that is based upon a report which took three months to write and which we have really only been given a month to respond to, is just too hasty”.

The last time such a change was proposed a Royal Commission was indeed established.

It was established in 1960. Finally reported in 1962.

And its recommendations were put into place between 1964-5.

This time the report was called for in June, published in September and implemented if the Government gets its way as early as next year.

As the Labour Chairman of the Cheshire Police Authority, Mr Peter Nurse, told the Home Secretary:

“Your timetable is so absurd that it is impossible for us to have a meaningful dialogue with our communities and for us to fully appraise what is the best structure for policing in this area that not only effectively tackles those serious criminals in our midst but also protects our neighbourhood.”

This speed leaves many questions unresolved.

The most important of these being that of costs.

The O’Connor report is 113 pages.

Of these just 1½ pages cover how merging forces will deliver savings.

A figure of £70 million is asserted but completely unsubstantiated.

So the change ‘could’ save around £70 million in the long-run – but equally it ‘could’ not.

There is every chance that costs will go up, not down, particularly information technology costs, in which both the Home Office and the police have such a brilliant track record.

If nothing else, all experience shows that the process of amalgamation itself will be a ferociously disruptive and distracting exercise, probably for several years.

During which time neither the criminals nor the terrorists will rest.

The draft calculations in the report are far from convincing.

So is the evidence from history.

I’m sure many Hon Members will remember what happened on a previous occasion when a Labour Government amalgamated two institutions to try and drive up standards and cost-effectiveness.

They took one failing car company and one successful van and lorry firm, put them into one, and created a disaster called British Leyland.

The history of amalgamations does not inspire confidence.

Rather than raising the average of all, they often pull successful institutions down.

Financial Implications

Even if the projected operational and cost improvements are capable of being achieved, it seems clear that we could achieve them through the simpler federated structure – which would have the added benefit of avoiding the heavy, upfront costs.

The O’Connor report admits that reorganisation “is bound” to entail up-front costs.

It says that these “cannot be avoided”.

In view of this warning, did it not occur to the Government that it might be a good idea to find out what the costs might be before they demanded that amalgamation proceeded?

It has been left to the police authorities to do that job.

The estimates are as wide-ranging as they are disturbing.

We have heard figures of £25-30 million being suggested simply to amalgamate IT systems across two neighbouring forces.

The Hon member for Stockton North has been very vocal about this from the Government back benches.

I hope he will allow me to give the example he has cited before.

His local force of Cleveland has been told that they will have to merge with Durham and Northumbria.

They think they will have to borrow £50 million to pay for it.

Servicing that loan will cost around £5 million a year.

But some forces will have to borrow even more.

I have here a memo from Leicestershire Police Authority which puts the cost of a amalgamation to create an East Midlands Regional Force at over £100 million with ongoing costs of anywhere between £30 and £52 million.

The Chief Constable of Gloucester, who is ACPO’s head of Finance and Resourcing, estimates the total set-up cost at £500 million. The APA assess it at £500 – £600 million.

I suspect that the cost of this is going to be like the infamous ID cards scheme: the harder we look at it, the more expensive it gets.

The full costs could be astronomical.

But we are told by the head of the police resources unit at the Home Office that the “Government does not have the money” to pay for it.

It is amazing, though, what Ministers can do when their backs are against the wall.

After the Association of Police Authorities refused to meet the Home Secretary’s rushed deadline of 23 December, he suddenly found £50 million next year and £75 million the year after that, in a rather clumsy attempt to bribe forces to accept his merger plans without question.

The APA was rightly outraged.

In its response entitled Policing Not for Sale, it condemned the Home Secretary’s attempt to bribe police authorities into abolishing local police forces.

Its Chairman, Bob Jones, said:

“we will not be bought off…

It is disappointing that the Home Secretary is now trying to bribe some police authorities to merge their local police forces at the expense of those police authorities who still have serious concerns about whether this will deliver the best policing for local people.”

And even with this rather cack-handed attempt to influence opinion, the shortfall in funding will be massive.

There are only two places to go to fill the gap.

One is to borrow the money.

The other is to raise it through a higher precept on the council tax.

It is clear that, in the end, the cost for this exercise will fall on the council taxpayer.

This is just one of the reasons why the Association of Police Authorities opposes the Government’s plan.

As their highly critical statement of 7 December put it:

“the APA does not accept that HMIC’s Report “Closing the Gap” provides a complete or comprehensive business case for the creation of strategic forces and… the APA will urgently explore alternative models, such as a Federated approach to establish if these offer a quicker, more cost effective approach to improve protective policing services”.

I welcome this approach.

It makes sense to explore alternative options, particularly when the Connor report proposed them.

Why is the Home Secretary so hostile to federation?

He says that a “compelling case” for federation has not been made.

Does he seriously contend that he has made a compelling case for amalgamations?

Alternative options need to be explored objectively and costed properly – not summarily ruled out because they don’t fit the Government’s regional blueprint.

My own survey of Police Authorities – conducted last week – revealed overwhelming opposition to the Government’s plans.

Most Authorities cited the speed and cost of the mergers to be a major factor in their opposition – together with concerns about the lack of accountability.

Conclusion – time to think again

So Mr Speaker, I hope the Government will now accept that they have handled this debate appallingly – which is why we find ourselves discussing such an important matter today, in the last week before Christmas.

Frankly, as the Chief Constable of Dyfed-Powys police said this weekend [?], the Government’s plans are “verging on a shambles”.

The Home Secretary needs to pause and reflect on the full implications of what he is proposing.

We are not opposed to any change in the current structure of 43 police forces, but we do believe there are very serious problems with the current proposal.

It makes policing remote, when we should be making it local.

It makes policing unaccountable, when we should be giving people greater control.

It threatens massive costs for no extra benefits and it is driven by a regional agenda which has already been rejected by the British people.

Quite simply, it seems to be trying to meet a resources problem with an organisational solution.

We should be designing the right organisation and then finding the resources to implement it.

It would be a tragedy indeed if we sacrificed good and effective policing on the altar of regional dogma.

It will be a tragedy if the government pushes through this hasty, ill-considered, costly, disruptive, and dangerous plan.

A tragedy the British people cannot afford.