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Brexit Is A Chance To Reignite Britain's Ability To Inspire And Enthral

26/07/2017 07:26 BST | Updated 26/07/2017 07:27 BST
JUSTIN TALLIS via Getty Images

As we embark on a great journey of national self-determination, we face the chance to create an identity as a vibrant trading nation, an outward-looking people and a country that has every reason to be confident in its future. If we are to realise this aspiration, we cannot remain signed up to the internal market or customs union, unequivocally clarified in the Queen's Speech which I was proud to support.

The problems with the customs unions and internal market have been rehearsed often: locked into a market with which we have a growing trade deficit and prevented from making more of global markets with which we have a growing trade surplus; protectionism which raises consumer prices and manufacturing costs; lack of autonomy on trade policy perpetuating a democratic deficit characterised by inappropriate regulations and diktat.

More generally, however, our membership of the EU has had a corrosive effect on domestic politics. For decades, the British political class has lacked the confidence to be bold for Britain, emasculated by its own insecurity. This has been partly fuelled by the media which has dumbed down political discourse; and partly due to politicians coming to believe that Experts Know Best, outsourcing power to other bodies. This has rendered politicians unwilling, rather than unable, to make their own final judgments and driven by more by media headlines, political correctness and polls, rather than conviction, principle or guiding philosophy.

This sums up the EU establishment. An inherent lack of legitimacy and accountability in the EU have diminished the potency of UK politics. And this has had a destructive effect on our politicians having any sense of clear vision or inspiration. That lack of imagination has led itself to an exaggerated sense of powerlessness dulling down politics through a spiral of technocratic and administrative decisions. Whether we are talking about trade, immigration, our courts or agriculture, in all regards, the EU has killed off innovation in politics.

Brexit is a chance to reignite that ability to inspire and enthral. Politics needs to be less about mechanistic procedures and more about The Big Vision. Less about systemic management and more about creating on a grand scale with radical thinking. More like Disraeli, Churchill or Thatcher who designed stirring blueprints of society. Brexit must not become a bean-counting exercise, which it could. We are not dividing up the estate after a bereavement. This is a birth and a chance for new beginnings; not a death.

Our trade potential is ready to blossom. We have a real chance to activate a new era of global growth through free trade. By negotiating a new broad free trade agreement with the EU; leading the way with a 'prosperity zone', as reflected by the Legatum Institute's Special Trade Commission, with countries such as Australia, New Zealand and Singapore that believe in open trade, competition on merit and property rights protection; and building new economic partnerships with Commonwealth, African, Caribbean and Pacific countries to open up channels for agricultural products, the UK can be a beacon of free trade and fair trade.

We can use our post-Brexit trade freedoms to help transform some of the poorest countries in the world. We should end the harmful EU tariffs on higher value processed products which lock out poor countries from competing on a level playing field and stunt their development. By liberating poorer countries from these punitive taxes, not only would choice for UK consumers explode as new products from around the world find their way to our shelves but prices would fall through lower import duties and competition.

Free markets are the strongest force for human economic progress, social justice and empowerment. Emancipating the world's poor, whilst also unleashing our own economic potency could raise Global World Product by 1.5% per year, meaning a global economy 50% bigger in 15years. That could spell the end of budget deficits, lift billions out of poverty through exponential job creation and propel property to a level not seen before.

So now is the time for those who campaigned to leave the EU and those who see the opportunity ahead even if they didn't campaign for it, to unite in painting that bold and bright vision of the future of our country and of the world. For those that can't see this or won't, the politics of yesterday may be good enough but not for me.

Suella Fernandes is Conservative MP for Fareham and chair of the European Research Group