Boris’s new Red Wall fans won’t forgive a soggy Brexit

One year ago, communities across the Red Wall took a bold step: after decades of Labour neglect, they decided enough was enough – for the first time in living memory they sent a Conservative MP to Westminster.

This was not a negative vote though. They were inspired by the vision Boris offered our country: of better schools, hospitals and infrastructure. A rebalanced and forward looking economy. But most of all they were inspired by the promise of a real Brexit.

Support for this vision was what led to the collapse of Labour and the first significant Conservative majority since 1987. If Boris is to retain support, it is essential this agenda is delivered.

Consequently, the need to keep his promises, especially those relating to Brexit,  should be at the forefront of his mind as, at long last, we approach the end of the Brexit negotiations. So, what were Boris’s commitments?

Firstly, he promised that the whole country would exit the Transition Period as one United Kingdom. This means not severing our country with a border in the Irish Sea. It means no bureaucracy on trade from Northern Ireland to Great Britain, and certainly no tariffs, quotas and quantitative restrictions on internal UK trade. It also means no ban on certain UK goods from freely circulating, such as with supermarket consignments and fresh products moving from GB to NI, as has recently been suggested.

Another key part of Boris’s manifesto was the pledge that we would become a fully independent country. This necessarily involves no future role for the European Court of Justice in any of our affairs; this particularly includes the court arbitrating over any potential trade agreement. From January next year the UK courts should be supreme.

The commitment to deliver a real Brexit also included the promise that we would regain the freedom to make our own decisions over all of our laws and regulations. This should mean the days of the EU preventing our elected government from helping long-neglected communities, through an overly rigid state aid policy, coming to an end. It also means that government policy enabling U.K. business to compete and become more productive  becomes a reality. We’ll know the Tory manifesto is being delivered if, from 2021, our Parliament has the power to make its own choices over diverse areas – from creating freeports to banning live animal exports, access to finance and tax policy.

Above all, the promise to regain control of our laws should certainly mean Boris rules out agreeing to ‘dynamic alignment’ – a situation where Britain would undemocratically have to follow future changes to EU rules, as Brussels is now demanding.

One of the most iconic opportunities of Brexit will be the chance for our fishing fleets to grow and thrive again. For this to happen, full control of UK waters must be restored. This involves the freedom of the UK Government to annually negotiate what access we are willing to offer other fleets, rather than being told what to do by Brussels.

A fundamental Tory pledge is that, from next year, the UK Parliament will have control over who and how many people come into our country, as well as the ability to deport EU offenders with criminal records. The British people value the contribution immigrants make, but they expect it to be fair, not a free for all in the future. 

Finally, Boris promised our new relationship should be based on free trade (with no more EU payments) and friendly competition – as opposed to being based on the EU’s treaties and laws, rigged in favour of one side. This necessarily means no ‘level playing field’. To have a successful partnership, our future relationship must be one of sovereign equals.

It is therefore imperative that the Prime Minister delivers on his promises. Not only because the Conservative Party will have no successful future without winning seats across the Red Wall, but because for the first time in a generation, he offered hope to these communities. They put their faith in him and in democracy. He owes it to them to deliver.

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