My speech from today’s debate is available to watch here: https://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/72f1ffe9-c018-4739-9834-cb9bbf56968c?in=13:34:32&out=13:37:41
The text of the speech is available here:
The Government are right to take back control and to recreate our sovereignty in the United Kingdom. We do not just want legal sovereignty; we also want practical sovereignty, so I ask the Government today to spell out how they will be cutting our taxes, changing our laws and using our powers to grant aid and support businesses and individuals, free of the EU controls, to promote the prosperity of the British people. That is what Brexit was all about. We stand on the threshold of independence day, so bring on the measures.
I have a couple of worries about this agreement. The first is fishing. One of the great prizes of Brexit is to recapture control of our fishing stocks and to rebuild our coastal communities and our fishing industry. Will the Government today promise to legislate immediately to prevent pulse fishing and over-large trawlers, which are doing enormous damage to our marine environment and to our fish stocks? We could at least do that as proof that we intend to rebuild our marine environment and our own domestic fishing industry. Will the Government set out the details of plans to train new fishermen and fisherwomen ready for the extra capacity we will need? Will they provide grant in aid schemes, so that those individuals can acquire second-hand trawlers or commission new trawlers from British yards so that we are again expanding the capacity of our industry?
I am also worried about the position in Northern Ireland. To what extent is our sovereignty damaged or impaired by the special relationships and special provisions of the withdrawal Act? I thought they were going to be changed in this latest agreement with the EU. Will the Government spell out more detail on the limitations on our power to be one United Kingdom in Northern Ireland, setting our own tax rates, making our own agreements on trade internationally and setting our own standards for products? We need to know, because we have already heard in this debate from Northern Ireland Members saying that is becoming a matter of division within Northern Ireland communities.
The issue also has read-across to Scotland. We know we have a battle to fight for the Union in Scotland. The SNP will clearly use the different arrangements in Northern Ireland as part of its battering ram against the Union, so I need some reassurance about the impact of the powers under this agreement and how we can start to settle those difficult issues.
The two things I most like about this agreement are the ability to withdraw unilaterally from it, should the EU be too aggressive in its handling of us and in its claims upon us, and the fact that the ECJ has no further power in the United Kingdom. That is absolutely vital, because otherwise it will assert extraterritoriality.