Most of us understand that if people from our nation want to connect with nations outside of Europe, that there are already a huge number of ways of doing it. That has been the case for thousands of years and nothing changed it in 1973 when we joined the predecessor of the EU. Of course as a nation, if we seek to agree deals with some nations it can make other nations more difficult. If we strike deals with Russia, some of the nations that oppose Russia will treat us differently. If we strike deals with some nations in Africa, other parts of Africa will be in opposition. However we should realise that if after nearly 50 years in our arrangements with Europe, that whilst being part of the EU has its limitations, for most people the closeness of Europe makes very good sense. Given that around 50% of our trade takes place in Europe, to leave Europe without a deal will dramatically reduce our trading economy very quickly and it will take many years to replace it. That is why so many of our national politicians claimed from the 24th June 2016 onwards that we would be able to retain our deals with the EU and gain new ones. However as things currently stand our departure from the EU will not allow that and whilst we may be able to gain some extra opportunities in other ways, to replace 50% of our economy in less than 20 or even 30 years will be very difficult and it will dramatically change our use of ships and ports compared to the short runs in from Europe using a tunnel and a few modest Ferry arrangements that have strengthened our economy over the last 47 years. What is very likely is that we will drop out of the top 10th largest economies in the world in the meantime. However it is good to see the claim by at least one of our current MPs and the Prime Minister as took place last Wednesday.
Henry Smith (Crawley): At the beginning of this year, the Prime Minister delivered the historic British people’s votes for Brexit. Regardless of the outcome of the current talks with the EU, does he agree with me that this great outward-looking nation has a world of global opportunities ahead of it?
Boris Johnson (PM): I thank my hon. Friend, who has campaigned nobly in that cause. As he knows, already we have not only set up a points-based immigration system, taking back control of our borders, but we will ensure that—and we have already done many free trade deals—we will use the economic advantages of Brexit, coming out of the European Union, to do free ports, to make this country the most attractive place for investment for business and for enterprise around the world and, above all, to resist the depredations of the socialists opposite, who would destroy that opportunity and do everything they possibly could to take us straight back into the lunar pull of the European Union, which is the true ambition of Keir Starmer.
So we will need to wait a little while before we know if there is an EU trade deal, but if not it will be fascinating to see how we can replace our economy in the way that Mr Johnson is claiming.